Everyone wants to feel included. I too have wanted to feel that way. Especially in my church regardless of which one I was attending. I have never been a good one at repeating a story or getting the "message" correct. I am including a link here to a message from Crosspointe Church in Raleigh where we attend church. I encourage you to listen to Steve who by the way is from Cedarville, Ohio so I feel a kinship with him! He has made some things very clear to me. If you don't have time for the message please see my thoughts (and paraphrasing from his message) below.
These were some of the things that Steve spoke about that resonated with me.
Beliefs, Behavior, Belonging.
When you talk with someone about your belief system you always start there. Let's talk about what you believe and what I believe. We are at odds and I am right. We start with our belief because we learned that it is the root of who we are. Beliefs- Doctrines, Creeds, Denominations, Politics, etc. The way we organize our thoughts.
Associated behaviors with those who believe with whatever I believe. The do's and don'ts of religion. We came to Jesus and then said "I believe this and I better quit doing that". There is a whole list of "Do's" that now I will be doing... rituals, ceremony, customs, celebrations, study, meditation, reading, attendance, where you attend...etc. There is a whole list. Here is what in our heads... here is how you can expect us then to behave.
The progression is then inclusion...belonging.
You weren't one of us but because you confessed this and said that you believe this and your willing to cut out and get rid of x, y, and z. Then you can belong. Membership. I can test you by watching everything you do. And some people are more of a member than others because they have more "knowledge". A worth system has been developed.
This is a system that you have to earn. Do I believe right? Do I behave right? If so, then now I can believe. This causes anxiety. (We call it peace!) If I don't get the first two right then I won't belong. You can be ex-communicated by coming to a different conclusion. This system is the birthplace for hypocrisy and lying. It makes us lie to belong. Family is supposed to be different from the playground.
Belonging, Behavior, Belief.
He suggests flipping things over. Belonging as a default kills tribalism. If you do this you kill tribalism. It kills it. It evens the playing field. That no matter what you do you are family.
The very first thing that is true, before you do anything right or wrong, before you speak a word, before you knock something over, YOU BELONG. That is the design.
There may be consequences that naturally occur by what you do but it won't be revenge.
What about boundaries?
Boundaries serve not the purpose of protecting just you but of making sure that wisdom and love are employed. Without somebody's broken dark toxicity raining down on you.
When a blind person steps on your foot you don't take revenge. It is the same pain as if a seeing person stepped on you but somehow when they're blind you don't get mad. You say "Oh it's because they're blind".
A boundary is to pull your foot back! Then find out how to love this person according to where they are. Belonging first is hard.
Behavior then follows... I don't do this so I will get voted off the island. It is like family. Why do you do things for your family. I don't know... I just do because it is family. Your behaviors are not rooted in I have got to perform this way or else but in expression of who you belong to. I also don't do things well but I am in a family and am loved.
Now we are talking about beliefs because those are our beliefs. We are no longer stuck on the playground. This is how they talked about early Christians. Not what knowledge they had but how they loved each other.
Doctrine is just how we try to fathom the unfathomable. You don't have to agree you just keep talking and having wise discussions within the family. In this process you allow someone to live through the process.
Here's what I heard clearly and believe... There's nothing you can do to get me off your team. Nothing I do should keep me from him. I belong to him. You belong to him. We are on the same team.
I am letting go of the first way of thinking. I grew up in churches that put their beliefs first. Consequently, I had behaviors that showed I belonged.
It takes extraordinary strength that goes far beyond your will power that's why the spirit lives in our midst. You have to choose to join in and say... "I live differently now." I am no longer on the playground. I have power that resurrected the corpse of Messiah in me. I will not go backward and be tribal again.
Here is my prayer and acknowledgement to God.
Nothing can take me from your great love....I belong to you.