How Christians Can Experience a Sense of Belonging
Called to Give to "One Another"
It is God's will that his children, the body of Christ, live in healthy relationships. Even as he pours his love into our hearts, he wants us to pass it on to others with whom we relate. Others, who are not believers, should be able to identify us by the love we show.
Pastoral counselor and ordained minister, Jennie Newbrough, uses the term "one anothering," to describe the relationships among Christians. She points out that in the New Testament alone there are over fifty references, where believers are admonished to:
- comfort one another
- bear one another's burdens
- love one another
- fellowship with one another
- minister to one another
- forgive one another
- submit to one another
- be kind to one another
- pray for one another
- have compassion one to another (Support Group Leader's Manual, p. 27).
We all need a sense of belonging, we are not meant to be on our own, because God gave us this internal need for relatedness. Spend some time and experience what it means to "one another" in healthy Christian relationships.
Expressions of Christian Love
Expressions of Christian Love Poll
Which of the following expressions of Christian love in your local church, do find most helpful?
Love One Another
Christians are supposed to share the "God kind of love," that we receive so generously from our Father in heaven. This kind of love is not linked to our performance but is freely given to us. As he gives this love so liberally, we ought to love each other, and in so doing others will recognize us as children of God.
We ought to show our love to each other in practical ways reflecting the distinguishing qualities of love indicated in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Here are seven of these traits of love:
- rejoices in right and truth
- bears up under everything
- believes the best of every person
- never fails; always perseveres
This kind of love can only come from God, but we must be willing to stir the love that has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5), then pass it on. We can start with little acts of kindness just where we are. The other six devotions will give insights on specific ways to demonstrate love.
Focus Verses: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).e.
Focus Question: What steps can you take to demonstrate your love in specific ways to members of your local church?
Fellowship with One Another
When we fellowship, we come together to build up one another. We do this through church services other meetings, and personal contacts. Some churches also have small groups set up to give support on a one to one level..
It's God's heart that we fellowship with each other. Such fellowship should flow from hearts filled with love for each other. King David resonated this theme when he exclaimed, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1 (KJV).
Sometimes obstacles come in the way of genuine fellowship with fellow believers, but we need to ask God for the help we need to overcome these hindrances. God knows the deep longing of each person's heart for connection and a sense of belonging, and he provided this need by his Son Jesus Christ through his body, the church. As the family of believers, God gives us the gift of fellowship to grow to become more like him.
Focus Verse: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10: 24-25).
Focus Questions: What do you enjoy most about the fellowship you share in your church? Is there anything you can do to reach out more to a specific group in your church?
John MacArtthur: The Pattern of Biblical Fellowship
Bible Quotes On Building Strong Relationships
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
- "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10: 24-25).
- "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).
- Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts … . bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" Collassans 3:12-13, ESV).
- “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart" (Zechariah 7:7, ESV).
- Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).
A Love Relationship With Our Father God
They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love
According to Pastor John MacArthur, the prayer of Jesus is that we might enjoy oneness, that is, shared life as believers. I believe that this is the basis of our sense of belonging.
Firstly, it is through our union with Christ that we overflow with love, forgiveness, encouragement, kindness and compassion in our relationships as believers. Then this flows into our relationship with others.
People know that we are Christians by the love we show them and each other. They see and feel the distinctiveness of our love because it flows from our fellowship with Jesus, from the very heart of God. This love is depicted in the Father's Love Letter, above.
Our Father, thank you that you loved us so much that you send your Son to die in our place. Thank you that you have lavished us with your love. Help me to freely love others with the love that we received from you. I thank you for the opportunity to fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Give me a sense of belonging, and as you minister to my deep needs, help me to reach out and touch the hearts of others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Newbrough, J. & Greenwood, C. (1993). Support Group Leader's. Edmonds, WA: Woman's Aglow Fellowship International.
© 2014 Yvette Stupart