The blessing of belonging
...He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world... He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of his will to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6
In 1962, in an Irish youth hostel, we met a young man. His earliest memories, as a small child, were of a German wartime labour camp. He was looked after, in a rough and ready fashion, by the older men of his hut. He had no idea who he was, where he had come from, nor even what his name had been. When the war ended he was taken to a children's home, which he left as soon as he could. He was stateless and travelled on temporary papers from the Dutch government. Every border crossing meant hours of waiting. I have never forgotten him.
To be secure in our belonging - to family and place - is a great blessing, but one we take for granted, until we are confronted with what it means to be totally rootless and homeless. Yet here, at the heart of this powerful chapter of blessing upon blessing, is an amazing picture of a lost child, who is sought out, chosen, adopted legally, acquiring a loving parent, brothers and sisters, a new name and a new home - for ever. Chosen, in Christ, before the world was made, to be an heir of grace, loved, cherished and valued.
The extended metaphors and analogies taken from our ordinary human relationships are a feature of the biblical narrative. They help to explain in terms we understand some of the great spiritual blessings of our relationship to God. But these blessings should not be just nuggets of joy we hug to ourselves. The characteristics of God revealed by them are the characteristics Christians are called to demonstrate in daily living in this world.
Thus we need to demonstrate the security of belonging to him by building loving security into the lives of others. We show our gratitude to him by our constancy and commitment in our own relationships of love, whether by birth or by choice, even when it is hard. And when we have to face up to insecurity and vulnerability, perhaps today, then in total confidence we claim all these promises and remember that 'his incomparably great power' holds us secure in his care for ever.
Published by LICC and reproduced with permission