8:18

Part of something bigger

Part of something bigger

The firmament overhead is startling.  Even if it is just in the ceiling.

In truth, dangling from it.  But it’s still a striking visual – like a science-fair mobile of the Big Bang.

And suddenly, in this corporate conference center, I’m thinking about community.  More specifically, the community of the Kingdom.  The vast, disparate, far-flung spiritual siblings of Jesus.  To whom I belong.

I hadn’t meant to do an 8:18 tonight.  My run of traveling has made me yearn for an uncomplicated evening.  But suddenly, seeing this artificial galaxy above me, I start walking the long halls of this building looking for other visuals of belonging.

It’s remarkable, when you think about it.  God’s purpose for our lives is not just to make us happy.  Or even just to give us a new personal identity.  His amazing miracle of redemption connects us to a new group.  A new family.

We belong to something bigger.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10)

I spent today seeing an echo of this belonging.  Any time people are thrown together to undertake a task, even something as temporary as running a day-and-a-half session for a client, community is at work, building camaraderie and appreciation in the process.  I didn’t know my teammates this morning.  By the time we stopped for the day, we were co-owners of the accomplishment.

This spiritual family we’re born into also has a purpose.  And each of us has a unique part in it.  These chess pieces are a bit silly: oversized, standing pointlessly on a coffee table.  Only ornamental.

Too often I feel like that’s the great temptation in our day.  To be ornamental Christians.

We must remember that we are not born into a self-help program.  Nor a system of obligations.  Nor an association of like-minded people.  We are an interconnected network, with a living Savior at the center.

A body with a beating heart.

A temple filled with the person of the Spirit.

In fact, our vast family of believers – the church universal – is born into an existing fellowship of the Trinity.  We are a community because God has always been one.

And as I sit tonight, typing this out, alone in my hotel room, my heart is warmed by the realization that I belong to something so great.  No believer is ever truly alone.

Triune God, how good you are to bring us, through your mercy, into such an incredible reality of connection.  Forgive us for when we are content to be on the sidelines – to be ornamental rather than oriented to your Kingdom.  Give us a longing for belonging.

Reader – How has God reminded you lately that you belong to something great?  Feel free to share a story with me.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.