The desire to belong is part of being human. It is instinctive and sought after. We search for people similar to us, and enjoy the company of like-minded people. This sense of belonging binds us together to form groups, teams, friendships, clubs and even nations.

Yet the pervasive message of the Western world is to be true to oneself – to live your life as you would like to live it – to be an individual without constraint. This has not always been the case. As a nation we have moved from a group-based culture to an individualistic culture. Traditional family values are considered outdated and unnecessary. The focus now is on you, as the individual person, to thrive. Advertisers have successfully tapped into this, and market their products by appealing to our individualistic natures. The British Army do this well, by persuading people to join them, not to serve their country, but in order to “become a better you”[1].

So we have a tension. On the one hand, we have an innate desire to belong, yet we try and dance to the individualistic tune being pumped into us from all around. This is an unhealthy tension with disastrous consequences. Nowhere has this tension been felt more than within the family.

Divorce rates are rocketing. Irreconcilable differences are being cited too often. Fathers are absent. Children are left without role models from an early age. Family unity is being dissolved. Even within seemingly strong families there can be hidden wounds and unspoken hurts.

In other words, the sense of unity that we desire should be given to us at birth from within the family unit. But this has been slowly eradicated and many start life without the security of the family bond. It is into this situation that the individualistic nature speaks – “go and be true to who you really are!” Yet our sense of belonging kicks in and we go and search for who we really are, as an individual, within other groups! We leave the biological family, only to end up within another familial group.

But within our shifting from group to group, and from family to family, our desire for belonging remains. We cry out for love and acceptance, but our constant group hopping leaves us unsatisfied.

We want to have our own unique identity, but individual success doesn’t satisfy us. Many sporting greats have spoken about how their unique successes left them feeling empty[2]. We want to belong to a loving group, but that group identity also fails to satisfy us. The rise of the ‘NotInMyName’ hashtag shows clearly how people are not satisfied with the group they belong to. This constant barrage of dissatisfaction leads to apathy and indifference.

So we keep trying to search for purpose within various groups. This means that the gang becomes the family, the local football team becomes the family, the colleagues become the family and/or the internet threads become the family. And we shift between all of them, and more. We learn to switch off our sense of purpose and belonging, and live our lives as mindless humans going from group to group without realising why we do so.

Our hearts are not satisfied with this. There is something better. There is something real.

There are many good groups which do many great things. But even as I write this – as a man engaged – I know that even the biological family can only go so far in satisfying my desire for belonging.

There is however, only one family that can surely satisfy us.

Only one place can people from all over the world unite and join together.

Only in one person can we truly be true to ourselves and yet be fully loved within a group setting.

Only in one group will you find people aware of the dissatisfaction and brokenness of life coming together to sincerely support each other.

That family is Christians. That place is Heaven. That person is Jesus.

That group right now is the local church across the world. Together we come and unite for Jesus. Only in Him do we find a family that truly satisfies our desire for belonging whilst we keep our individual nature.

Only in Jesus will there be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language”[3] coming together. It is in God’s family where we truly belong.

It is in Jesus where all people will find their purpose. It is in Jesus where you are more yourself. It is only in Jesus where you really belong and where you’re really loved.

Come and join the family.

 


[1] http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/army-dont-become-better-you-karmarama/1380239

[2] Take successful cyclist Mark Cavendish for example, writing in his autobiography how his fame made him feel empty.  http://tinyurl.com/j5h72xr

[3] Revelation 7:9