While I was in Japan I wrote a blog post about the Song “We the Redeemed” and in that song is a line that goes: “Now forever to belong”. (Read that post here) This past week I was thinking over this idea again and wanted to put these new thoughts down on paper. I was thinking of that simple phrase “now forever to belong” and how every human being has a longing to belong. This is an innate human desire that we can’t fill ourselves. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. Just look at Hollywood and you have hundreds of perfect examples. These people “have it all” but they still do the stupidest things with their lives because they’re still missing something. Drugs, spouse hopping, thrills– none of it satisfies. There are movies about the voids we have in our lives and even songs have been written about them, many of which are so close to the truth! Yet instead of connecting the dots to Jesus they figure it must be something they can fill themselves so they sing about love and/or finding the “right” person. How tragic that they have identified this “illness” but are pursing the wrong antidote. Their sights should be set on person, the person of Jesus Christ. Because of this misguided notion that we can fill this void without Christ, the rest of our world takes its script from these Hollywood “stars” who seem to have it all together, if only in their movies.
Everywhere we go we see this idea played out. Every form of advertising draws on this concept, from cars to clothes to magazines. They all tell us that if we buy a certain item or look a certain way we can fill that void and belong. Hollywood calls it different things: to fit in, to be accepted, to be cool and even to rebel are all ways of belonging. What’s more is that the never ending stream of movies and advice from the people at the top has made it easy to belong: wear these jeans or talk this way, or like this song and you will belong. Our culture eats it up. We buy 20 pairs of jeans because the “old” ones don’t get the looks we want, or we buy cars that we can’t really afford (Romans 13:8, anyone?) because then people will “respect” us. The real question is this: Who are you trying to impress? God tells us you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). I think the answer to this question is very simple yet in many ways difficult for the everyday sinner: I say simple because when you know the facts the answer is easy: Would you rather serve a master who knows everything about you, every secret every desire, every hurt and pain and will walk with you through them all and bring you to a place where they will all be gone forever? Or would you serve a master who gives you some pleasure now but always compares you to others and never sees you as good enough if something prettier or faster or better comes along, and in the end leads only to your destruction? Seems like a simple enough choice, but it is difficult because the desires of our flesh live in all of us. We don’t want to go against culture. Every ounce of flesh fights against the desire to obey God, which was planted in us by the Holy Spirit! This is why Paul calls it the good fight. Every day we must do battle with this desire and everyday, to some extent, we lose because we are not perfect. But the beauty of this can be seen in Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” “God shows” — his love for us is still being proclaimed today! God loves us, look at the cross of Christ and know the love of God, Christian.
I want to finish by looking at each word of the phrase we started with and seeing the truths in the simple words. It starts with the word “now”. Whether the song writers intended this or it just fit in lyrically it is a powerful truth because it emphasizes the fact that there is no test you must pass, no waiting period you have to endure to belong to Christ. Do you believe that God raised His son from the dead and crowned Him Lord? Then you belong! How sweet it is to know at this moment in all my fears and struggles and sins that I belong to Christ! Wemwill skip the word “forever” and come back to it at the end, which leads us to one of the greatest promises in the bible: “To belong”! I think one of the best explanations of this is found in Romans chapter 8 verses 16 & 17 which goes like this:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ….
Think of this in terms of the recent royal wedding between Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. I did not see the wedding, but it was nearly impossible not to see at least some of the news coverage that it received. This brings us a very good example of belonging. For the most part the world simply watched, they talked about the couple and what the wedding looked like and how the bride was dressed and what was said at the ceremony. But that is where their connection ended; when the wedding was over and the doors of the church were closed we were all locked out, because we didn’t really belong to that family. But think of how different it would have been to be related to the bride. Let’s say you were a close cousin. Now everything changes, instead of watching on TV you are invited to the ceremony and given a seat near the front and welcomed by the bride and groom as a close friend. Here is where the beauty of this song can be seen. As sinners we merely sit on the sideline of life and watch the royal wedding of Christ and His Church. Often times we scoff at the bride in her beautiful dress out of jealousy or bitterness, being quick to point out stains of sin and not realizing that it’s not the final ceremony but that she is just at the rehearsal dinner if you will (We know from Ephesians 5:25-27 that Christ will present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish). Others in denial will try to live through the bride, losing themselves in the moment and talking as if they know her and what’s going on in the church. They try to forget their own hopeless situation, but when the doors shut these fair weather “friends” will be shut out with the rest of the people who scoffed and ridiculed. This is where “forever” comes in, because unlike the royal wedding when the doors of the church of Christ are closed on that final day they will not reopen. There are no second chances, only holy dread and righteous anger. Far better to pray for you heart to be melted with repentance than to regret a choice for eternity! Do you belong to God, or are you one of the all too numerous people who wears the Christian name and lives just like the world? Earlier we looked at the beauty of Romans 8 which told us that:
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,…..”
But we left off the very important ending which adds:
“.…provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
Can you begin to see the simplicity of the Christian life: Believe, follow Christ, endure the suffering that will happen, and in the end inherit eternal life! How many of us go to great lengths to earn fame and money on earth? Why not forgo the earthly eye candy for an eternity with the one who created it?