Acceptance and Belonging

Romans 15:7 tells us, “Therefore accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

 

Do you long for acceptance and belonging?

I know that I do. We as humans generally want to feel that we are a part of something, we need to know that we have a place. We need loving acceptance to welcome us in relationships. The Lord created us with desire for relationship but finding acceptance and belonging can be a struggle. All of the issues that keep us imprisoned in loneliness leave us without the belonging and acceptance we so desperately need.

Paul tells us in Romans 15:7 that we are to accept one another. And we are to do this because of what Jesus did. He is our perfect example. He accepted us by His grace. He died for us and brought glory to His Father. We too can bring glory to God by living out grace in our lives as Jesus did.

We are called to accept one another even though we recognize many differences among us; different looks, different viewpoints, different beliefs, different perceptions, different ways of understanding and on and on it goes. Even so we are to emulate Jesus in showing patience to each other and in showing forbearance for each other. We are to show the same love that the Lord has showered on us.

The Bible speaks a lot about the importance of unity, and as you probably well know that does not come easily. It is only through the love and acceptance of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can we have unity. Unity is not born out of sameness in background. It is born out of the love that Holy Spirit pours into our hearts, and the grace we learn to share as we come to know Jesus in deeper ways. We all come from different backgrounds and have had many different experiences. The common thread for Christians is the Gospel. And it is as we grow in our faith, we grow in our desire to live out Christ-like love and acceptance to others.

Living out love and acceptance in the church, in the Christian community is what Paul is speaking of. He does not say that it will be easy, but he does make it clear that it is possible as we depend on the Holy Spirit. Paul knew the Truth, he knew the reality of God’s grace. He knew full well how his life had been transformed, how his heart had done a 180 degree turn around. Only in God’s power. The Lord led Paul’s heart to a place of peace, and to a desire for fellowship. Following this miracle in his heart, Paul wanted nothing more that to see the church, the body of Christ to grow in peace and unity.

So, it is as we seek the Lord and depend on the Holy Spirit, He will empower us to develop hearts wiling to accept others with Christ-like love. We desperately need the love of Christ in our hearts, the power of His grace, and the leading of the Holy Spirit to help us develop unity in our churches and to grow places filled with people who want to accept others because they have found acceptance in a loving Savior.

Belonging, acceptance, and community bring about an atmosphere where we are willing to carry one another’s burdens and weaknesses, trials, afflictions, and infirmities. This grows out of hearts filled with love. It is in a community of hearts filled with God’s love that we can begin to feel safe to share in authenticity.

When we are stuck holding our shame inside, walls are constructed that keep us separated. But when we are free to share our struggles, confess our sins, and be honest regarding our suffering, we open the doors to the possibility of finding community. We need to know God’s grace in our hearts in order for us to share His acceptance.

When we know the magnitude of God’s love and grace towards us, we learn of the freedom to come to Him just as we are. And knowing His love and grace deep in our hearts leads us to sharing that same kind of grace with others.

I find that people who have found the vast ocean of God’s grace are the ones who can share that same grace from their hearts with others.

The Lord desires the church to be a place of belonging. He created us with longing for belonging. He wants us to be in communion with Him. He wants us to live in community with others through sharing His grace.

The thing about belonging is when we truly belong we no longer need to hide, we can be real and authentic about where we are at in life. We don’t have to be chameleons or people-pleasers.

When we can be honest about who we are and where we are at, and not have to try to be someone we are not, we can feel at home, and truly feel loved.

So finding acceptance and belonging begins in our hearts when our hearts are firm in the knowledge and experience of God’s grace and love towards us.

Take time today to examine the reality to which you know God’s grace. Seek to know it more so that it overflows as you meet others. Acceptance starts with knowing Jesus and the fullness of His grace. Acceptance grows as we allow His grace and love to flood our hearts. We can make a difference. Our Christian communities can be places of acceptance and belonging. How will you begin to make this happen in your life?

 

It has been a number of weeks since I have been able to publish a post because of having to help with my mom’s care. I have felt the Lord’s grace in my life as I saw the Lord work through the prayers of others. I so appreciate those who so kindly prayed for my mom. She has been in and out of the hospital a couple of times in the past few weeks as well as in rehab. She is finally gaining strength and able to sit in a chair. Thank you so very much for your faithful prayers. 

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Authenticity in the Adventure

Being transparent and authentic is difficult, actually it can be downright scary. But apart from choosing transparency in a friendship or relationship, there is emptiness. Sharing, holding heart secrets, being real about life, all build trust. Such friendships are great blessings. They feel safe, you feel understood, and you feel known. These kind of relationships do not come about in an instant. You don’t just sit down and begin sharing from the depths of your heart. These relationships take varying degrees of time to develop.

I have learned that it is very important to be intentional about keeping the Lord first in my life in the quest of building deep friendships. God truly is a jealous God. He wants our hearts to be satisfied in Him alone. I feel that at times the Lord has withheld deep friendships from me because He wanted me to be faithful in honoring Him first. I know in the past I have made idols out of friends, I mean, I chose a person over the Lord without realizing it or intending for it to be that way. I would seek their advice, their help, and/or their understanding, and bypass the Lord.

I have seen that as I am diligent about keeping the Lord first, He has blessed me with gifts of new and deep friendships. This may or may not be true of you and your life. The Lord deals with each one of us individually. He knows how to work with us, how to get our attention, and how to draw us back to Him when we seem to stray. He knows what needs to be taken away or regulated just as a parent knows what is not helpful or healthy for a child.

The Lord also knows exactly what our hearts need. He brings people into our lives, people who we can minster to or help in specific ways as He has gifted us, as well as, people who can bless us with their giftedness.

He knows what is in and on our hearts that needs comfort or holding. He knows our experiences, and how by sharing about those experiences we can find encouragement. He knows how in His wisdom a person truly may lead us to new understanding, maybe understanding that will push us forward in growing in Him.

He hears our prayers of emptiness, loneliness, and neediness. He meets us in the pain of those with community, sisters in Christ or brothers in Christ. The Lord is faithful to meet each of our needs in ways so amazing, in ways that bring our hearts so much satisfaction. But the glory in this all goes to Him because these friends are blessing of His love. Such authenticity deepens our relationships and brings us belonging, they bring us sisterhood or brotherhood.

If you are struggling with not having a close friend or a tribe of trusted ones, ask the Lord to show you His amazing knowledge of the neediness of your heart, ask Him to bring you the blessing of a friend or put you in a group of friends..
The Lord wants us to be in relationship, of course with Him first, and then with the people He puts around us and those He brings into our lives. He cares deeply about the needs of our hearts and He will give you the gift of deep authentic relationship in this adventure we call life.

Be blessed and be a blessing!