All of us were designed to want to belong.
When Jane* visited our life group, it wasn’t because she was looking to learn more about the Bible. She wasn’t searching for spiritual answers. She had never attended our church before. She wasn’t a Christ-follower. She was just lonely.
When Dave and Nicola invited her to come to life group with them, she agreed because it gave her one less night to sit at home by herself.
She had one pre-requisite about attending our group – that she didn’t have to say anything. So for the first six weeks Jane said nothing during the meetings. She just observed.
Then one night a six year old girl in the group said to her: “You don’t say anything. Why not?” Jane smiled and laughed nervously, but somehow it broke the ice and she started engaging little by little.
We slowly came to hear her story. Her husband had died just two years earlier. She was grieving his passing. And a few years prior to that, her son had been jailed for murdering his girlfriend. As his mother, she had been through unimaginable pain. She was in her fifties. And she had been through a lot.
Every week she came back and slowly started to make friends in the group. She started to belong way before she started believing!
One of those friends invited her to Sunday
services and she agreed and started going along. She started to smile more often and occasionally she would laugh!
Whenever we asked her if she was ready to become a Christ-follower, Jane replied “No thank you. I’m not ready yet!”
After 18 months she finally decided to place her faith in Christ. That week at life group we threw a special “birthday” party for her. It had been her spiritual birthday! The group all contributed and bought her a brand new Bible as a gift. Her eyes grew very moist, as did most of ours.
A little while later she moved house. She told the group how difficult it was to leave all the memories behind not to mention the physical difficulty of moving without her husband and son. That Saturday all the men in the group arrived on her doorstep. The pick-up trucks and trailers were parked outside. Within a few hours everything had been moved into the new house.
She looked on with tears in her eyes and told me that she had never experienced anything like this before in her life. She had found a place of belonging.
Some years have now passed. Jane’s son was released on parole. One of the first things she did was to bring him to a church service with her. She is still following Christ wholeheartedly and is hardly recognisable as the lady who first arrived at life group.
God designed all of us to belong to His community of faith – the church. He never intended for us to go through life in this world “alone”. We cannot fully experience the power and delight of life with God without also being drawn into community with other Christ-followers. Community reinforces our faith. The spiritual gifts within community heal and build us up. And our church family supports us in times of need.
Community is not something to be feared, but should be welcomed. The risk of ‘belonging’ does not go beyond the ‘risk’ it takes to follow Jesus. The reward is that we get to live life as God intended from the beginning. How can we turn down an offer like that?
*name changed to protect privacy