Called to Belong

The title for this Be Encouraged comes from this verse:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  – Romans 1:1-7, ESV

It’s near the end of that quote, where Paul says, “you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” That is followed by another powerful phrase, “who are loved by God and called to be saints.” Now my point in picking out these phrases isn’t to start a free will/predestination debate. There are plenty of Internet message boards where you can explore that to your heart’s content. Rather, I want to focus on the sense of belonging that those two phrases convey. They say to us, “You matter. God has chosen to include you in His fellowship.” When the day goes wrong and it seems like the world is falling apart, these are bedrock reminders from God that we can fall back on. We are His and no matter what comes our way, nothing can change that.

Only He could have chosen to extend fellowship to us. Only He could have presented a way for us to be a part of Him. He did so through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross, a payment for our sins we could not give. Therefore, we can marvel in the fact that God chose to embrace us, to wrap His arms around us, for His own reasons. Once we accept Jesus Christ we belong to Him, we are His, and nothing and no one can separate us from Him.

I want you to picture this in your mind’s eye. A small child is scared. Maybe it is his first dentist appointment (which is a scary thing, even for us adults). He is crying and repeating over and over again, “I don’t want to go!” Then the dad reaches down, takes his small hand, and says, “I’ll go with you.” The boy, still afraid, stops crying because he’s not going to face this experience alone. Yes, it’s still scary, but Daddy will be there. Daddy will ensure nothing will happen to him that shouldn’t happen to him. With Daddy he is safe. And the little boy is able to face his fear because Daddy is there. This is what these verses remind me of. Except instead of me facing the dreaded dentist, I can face anything in life because I belong to Jesus Christ (and I guess that means even the dentist). I am His. And when I am scared, when I don’t know what’s coming next, it’s okay, because the Father will take my hand due to the fact that I belong to His Son. I am the little boy and God is the Daddy. When you belong to Jesus Christ, this is what you get. Absolutely amazing, isn’t it?

I want to leave you with one more analogy. Ever be picked last at something? Remember that feeling? You were only picked because someone had to pick you. None of us like that feeling. Almost all of us have felt that. It’s a horrible feeling because we know we weren’t wanted. Maybe we can’t shoot a basketball well or can’t throw a Frisbee properly or we’re terrible at giving clues for others to guess a word. Whatever the reason, we were dead last and truth be told, we’d probably have been left off if the person doing the picking had his or her way. But see, when Paul writes that we belong to Jesus Christ he adds to that, “loved by God,” which tells us we weren’t picked last because God had to. Rather God wanted to pick us. He chose to pick us because He loves us and He wanted us to be part of His team. He wanted us to belong to Him.

That’s what it means to belong to Jesus Christ. Put away the self-help books and all the talk about boosting your self image. Your image is simple: you belong to Jesus Christ. You are loved by God and matter to Him. He wants you to be in fellowship with Him. He wants you to go through life with Him. He wants a relationship with you. Whatever you will face in life, He wants you to remember that He is with you. He’s not going anywhere. He wants to hold your hand when you need Him, He wants you to share your life with Him. It is often said Christianity is really about relationship: our relationship with our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Verses like this remind us that God wants us to draw near to Him. He wants us to remember that we belong to Him. What’s stopping you today from doing just that?

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