You Are Not Alone
From spiritual orphans to a united body of Christ: Pastor Ian explains how our shared story of the gospel is the key component of our sense of belonging as a church community.
I was stunned this week to learn the background of the lonely, broken boy who took the lives of 17 teachers and classmates in Florida. Nikolas was born to a mother who left him an orphan. As a child, he was adopted by Lynda and Roger Cruz. But Roger died suddenly when Nikolas was just four and Lynda died of the flu last November. Some of Nikolas’ first words to his court-appointed public defender were, “I have never belonged to anyone.”
You are not alone. Many believe these are some of the most powerfully comforting words in the English language.
In 2007 Stanford University published a series of studies that identified belonging as a primal psychological lever in the elevation of a sense of happiness and well-being. It showed that isolation quickly harmed a person's sense of well-being, as well as his or her intellectual achievement, immune function and health. Even more surprising? The research showed that even a single instance of exclusion could undermine well-being, IQ test performance and self-control.
Perhaps this is why belonging is such an important theme in scripture. In Psalm 25:16, David acknowledged this need and cried out to God, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
According to Gregory Walton, the primary author of the studies, the most consistent component in a sense of belonging was a shared story. For believers, this is the story of the gospel. In calling us to Himself, God demonstrates that He is the God of belonging. He presents Himself as “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows… He settles the solitary in a home (Ps 68:5-6).” And He offers us the constant comfort of His presence (Deut 31:6; Is 41:10; Prov 18:24; Matt 28:20).
In GBC we believe that though we come from diverse backgrounds, the same God has called each of us to belong: to Him and to one another. At one time we were all spiritual orphans, alone and without hope in the world. But in His mercy, God initiated a belonging intervention. And now in Christ, we who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself became our peace. He has made us one, and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:12-14).
We are not alone! We believe to belong. I pray that each of us would seek deeper belonging and personal accountability this year by joining a small group within our Grace CG network!
- Our message this Sunday is taken from 1 Timothy 5:1-6:2. We will be looking how the early church was forced to develop policies and procedures in order to continue to enjoy life together.
- Have you ever felt like you needed more help on how to effectively read and understand the Bible? This Sunday a new EQUIP class entitled "How to Read the Bible" will launch. Bring a friend and plan to join us in room 310 at 11:00 am sharp!
- Easter season is barely a month away. This year, our Good Friday service will be held from 5-6 pm, 30 March.