Here are some of my thoughts from mu upcoming sermon, The Atmosphere of Belonging:
Christ created an atmosphere of belonging which was not based upon pedigree, heritage or an ability to discern and keep a law. It was inclusive not exclusive and was based on principles such as love, grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. It was neither artificial nor propped up by some institutional agenda. It was truly “whosoever will” and not surprisingly it connected.
We must re-imagine the belonging paradigm from our traditional institutional approach of behavior-belief-belong to Christ’s approach of Matthew 11-28-30: belong-belief-behavior.
This creates genuine discipleship out of a relationship with Jesus which is not predicated or dependent upon the whims/traditions/functions of an institution.
Peter is a case study- from his initial invitation to follow Christ in Matthew 4:19 to his affirmation of belief in Jesus in light of others abandoning him in John 6:68-69 to his own encouraging teaching of allowing God’s virtues to shape behavior in 2nd Peter 1:5ff.
Belonging brings blessings of relationship, identity, security and community.
If we can successfully create such an atmosphere of belonging connecting to culture will occur. But we first must demolish all of the institutional barriers of prejudice, class status, pride, pretense and self-serving posturing.
Just some of it. Your comments and critique are welcome.