School is back. These days as a (somewhat) adult, this season does not affect me the way it used to. Now, it just means that I see school buses more often, and traffic is a living horror. But sometimes when I’m sitting in traffic, or pass by a school bus, or see bright lights suspended over a football field on a Friday night, it makes me recall my school days and the many social circles that collected along the cafeteria tables. The jocks, the nerds, the outcasts, and all the in-betweens who were scrambling for a seat anywhere they could find it. And through these memories, I am reminded of a driving force that resides in all human beings.
One of the strongest forces in human beings is our desire to belong. To be fully known, understood, accepted, and safe. In young people, the good and bad parts of our human nature are on proud display, and often unfiltered. When we look closely, we see where they persist into adulthood and begin to take new shapes in our culture. Many people have been told their whole lives, with or without words, that they don’t belong – and that crippling need marks their life. It is the reason we impress others, seek status, and strive to carve out a place for our heart to call “home”. It is the reason why sometimes, even if we are grown adults, we can still feel like we are trying to find a seat at the lunch table.
The longing for a home in our soul is deep and insatiable. It’s something that seems to stretch beyond our feelings into the subconscious, and define who we are as a person. For better or for worse, we make decisions based off of that spiritual hunger. We scramble for a seat at the table, regardless of who is sitting at it, and open our lives to things we never intended to experience, with the hope that we will receive acceptance in return. We exhaust one option and move to another in a game of musical chairs.
In itself, the longing to belong is not a bad thing – but a pure and holy inclination that can become bent and misguided without God. In Ephesians, Paul writes:
“You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.
“In Him, the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”
(Eph. 2:19-22, NRSV)
In this, Paul is expressing a beautiful truth that can become our reality – that by surrendering to Christ, we are knitted into a real community with other believers, and together form a dwelling place for God. Through one another, in Christ, God can literally dwell with us, and we can abide in Him (John 15). In this way, He truly does “set the lonely in families” (Ps. 68:6). Is there a better place to belong?
What could happen if, instead of leaning on our own understanding and means to feel accepted and loved, we turned to God and chose to receive it from Him alone? What would happen if we allowed Him to be the home of our hearts? If His voice were the only one that truly mattered to us, and all others melted away?
One of the goals of our church is to be a place where anybody can belong, alongside other believers committed to Christ-likeness while stepping deeper and deeper into intimacy with God. Let’s continue in the example of Christ, and live from the Home that lives in our hearts!