We Belong to God

I am going to spend the next several weeks fleshing out the Brief Statement of Faith of the PCUSA. It appears last in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions, as it is the most recent. I hope my meditations will help you, dear reader grow in faith in God and deepen your walk with Christ. Even if you don’t consider yourself Presbyterian, I think they will help you.

The first line says th at in life and death we belong to God.

What is this line saying?

The key part of the opening line is that we belong to God. We know, what is meant by the first part of the line, but the second half needs more fleshing out, so I will concentrate on that bit.

We are the community of faith, the body of Christ who read or recite this line, those who are following Jesus in word and deed. Those who responded to the call to come and die to find life eternal that is who the We are.

Not that we are to think highly of ourselves as if we won the lottery or some contest, we are to be the church the visible sign of salvation offered to all freely through Christ Jesus.

We are not to seek status or to think highly of ourselves. Jesus wasn’t concerned about his own status. You will not find Jesus on Facebook. Jesus was more concerned about relationships and bringing the good news to those that needed it the most. That is how we are to live our lives. We are to live in grace and peace as much as possible. Sometimes this will be possible, other times not. Some will enjoy our company, others not. Yet, no matter who we encounter, we are to show love and do right. Sometimes, what is right doesn’t seem like the most loving thing, but we do what is right because we love them. Don’t let wicked behavior induce you to do wrong, but overcome evil by returning good for evil. This sums up how we are to live in the world.

We love, forgive, accept and serve all. All means all without exception. As did Christ on the cross, he who can obey this precept is a transformed man. We are transformed by the action we take towards our fellow man.

The second word Belong is a powerful word. We all want to belong to something to someone. Our whole life is spent looking for the thing, place, and person we belong to. We seek for the love that eludes friendships that are imperfect and end without a reason, and a place where we will be safe. This world only disappoints or at best imperfectly and partially fills our desire to be in love, community, and fellowship. We were made for more, for so much more. That is what the entire Bible is telling us and that is the meaning of Jesus rising on the third day. We live between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. We were made for another world. We will only be fulfilled fully there.

God cares about everyone. There is not a single person, animal, or section of our universe outside of the love and care of God. Every life counts. Every life matters. God sees the pain of this life, hears our cry, and understands the brokenness and misery all too often common to life on earth. God is involved and taking the world to a certain place. The Kingdom planted from the beginning is growing no help or hindrance will affect it. In the end, God will have his way.

Jesus is not about rescuing us from our humanity, but showing us how to live life to the fullest, love everyone, and stand up for the little, least, and lost. Our task is not to judge, but to love, not to bash people with their shortcomings, but tell them of God’s incredible love for them. Jesus doesn’t want us on our knees he loves us into our better self so that we can follow his lead in showing the world God’s love.

No matter what you have done or have not done, God loves you. God loves you personally and powerfully. No one, absolutely no one is outside of the love of God. We are all included in the loving embrace of God, because we are created and we are constantly being made and remade in the image of God. We become sons and daughters of God by loving everyone indiscriminately, just as God does.

Nothing can separate us from God, but there are things we can and should do that more fully manifest the love of God in our life and the lives of others.  This is not about earning God’s love but responding to it, because we are compelled by it. A smile, greeting a stranger, talking with someone, helping another, opening a door, weeding a neighborhood garden, picking up trash can mean be a simple way of stepping out of our own concerns and saying God loves you let me show you.

The rock on which you must build your life is God loves you! Each of us is a story of God’s love and grace enfleshed. My single, primary identity is a Jesus follower loved by God. Everything must be secondary to this status. We belong to God and knowing this will change everything.

Who is the God that this line, that this statement of faith is talking about?

It is not just any god. It is a specific God. It is important to know who this God is and what this statement is saying about this God.

God refuses to be put into a box. He defies all easy definitions. The moment you put Him in a box, He breaks out destroying the box and every other box. God is not a well-behaved noun that just sits still. God is a verb. (Buckminster Fuller) God is a wild, free, and irreverent verb. God isn’t safe, but he is good. (C S Lewis) The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. (Rob Bell)

No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of absolute master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself. (Jacques Ellul) God became man in Jesus. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18) That’s Jesus’ manifesto. If anyone, I don’t care who they are tells you that Jesus was about anything contrary they’re wrong and should be ignored. Jesus came that we might be liberated from the chains that bind us and free us to have eternal life. Jesus presents us with what we could ever attain, without lifting a finger we are made free. In Jesus, God has put up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job once and for all and simply invited us to believe it—to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion. (Robert Farrar Capon)

If God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into our life, He’ll do the same thing in us that He did in Jesus, causing us to live vibrant fresh life in Christ. When God lives and breathes in us, as surely as he did in Jesus, we are delivered from dead life to eternal life.  God makes us into the people we are to be to live the life we are to live. This is not because we deserve it, because we don’t, but because we trust, God to do what Jesus promised he would do. We take God at his word and hold fast to faith. In trusting God, in making God our center, we live into the grace lavished on us. As Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, and God-glorifying people, we are on the way to life eternal; death is only an interlude that all must pass through on the way to the Kingdom.

We belong to God and in the end, that is good news.

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