Our God lives in community – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – existing as one, each in the other both knowing and being known.
Part of our being created in the image of God is our strong desire to belong. To be known by others and experience connections.
Yet, too often we settle for fitting in as a substitute for true belonging.
Fitting in is about having value reflected back to you. It is worth by association, by being part of a group. So the one who is trying to fit in conforms their behavior. Playing a part or acting a certain way in order to gain the approval and other benefits of the group.
Fitting in appeals to the false self. Like other things that appeal to the false self, it is enslaving. The one who is trying to fit in is being controlled and manipulated by the expectations of others. Ironically, by attempting to define a sense of self by fitting in, the true self is lost.
We often demand this of people in our churches.
Yet, when Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one as He and the Father are one, his reference was not to fitting in, but rather to belonging.
Like fitting in, belonging involves commonality. Unlike fitting in, belonging also involves acceptance.
Acceptance that our differences are part of our design and add richness to our communities.
As a Church, acceptance that we are one body with many different gifts, abilities, styles, and roles.
Fitting in is self-ish. A pragmatic desire to get something from the group.
In a community of belonging, there is interconnection. It is self-less, for the true self defined in Christ is not taking, it is giving. Contributing. Loving.
Unique, yet secured in place by acceptance.
In the communities to which you belong, do you experience belonging or fitting in? How does the experience of each feel different?