Where do you belong? Where is your safe space? What’s home for you? Who is your community? Who are your people? Who is your squad?
As trite or as cliche as those questions might sound, they’re important ones. Belonging is one of our deep needs – we want to feel like we fit somewhere. That’s why so many of us have angsty memories from adolescence featuring some group of people who cast us out – and thus hurt us. (Life was rough at thirteen.) That’s also why you googled “how to make friends after college” last week – it’s a desire deep inside all of us.
I like to imagine that finding a community wasn’t such a difficult thing back in the Bible days. The chapter of Numbers starts off, fittingly, with a bunch of numbers – the number of people in each tribe of Israel.
“Tribes”, “families”, “house of his fathers” – all of these phrases feature in the chapter and call up images of community and home, safety and belonging. Each of these units were numbered to see how many war-ready men were in each tribe – each tribe except for the Levites, whose sole purpose in life was to care for the tabernacle.
When everyone was counted, the total was over 600,000. 600,000 friends. 600,000 family members. A community 600,000 strong.
The Treasures Within:
What makes a group of people a true community?
If you’ve ever told people that they can’t make fun of your family members – only you can – you know that blood relationships make a community.
If you’re one of the people arguing that #RihannaIsJamaican on Twitter, then you know nationality tightly bonds people together too.
Communities like Team Vitiligo and Facebook and Reddit groups for people with different conditions and diseases show that people are united by a common problem or a common source of suffering.
Women’s empowerment groups are united by a common goal.
Sadly, some of the worst communities in our society, like incels and white supremacists, are bonded by a common enemy.
And we can’t forget the thousands of people who feel united because of their common beliefs – in a person, in a god.
And the Israelites? I think they represented one of the best communities of all. It’s easy to shrug away from them – weird people doing weird things thousands of years ago. But their community has so much in common with the communities we are building today. Sure, Israel was a nation, a people. They were connected by genetics and nationality.
But what made the Israelites, what fused them together was their common belief in God. They lived and traveled and walked together because they believed in a God who loved them, chose them, and guided them.
At the same time, the Israelites were connected by a common enemy – sin. They would go on to fight and destroy nations that represented the worst in society. People who sacrificed children to their gods, who molested and raped each other as part of worship – people who did what they wanted instead of what was right.
So the Israelites fought for good. They fought so that the lies and poison of these other nations wouldn’t spread to others. They fought for what they believed in. Just like us.
It’s How Dreams Come True
We all want to fight for what we believe in. We all fight for good to win. We all fight to punish people who promote and live off of evil. When something evil pops onto our news feed, we debate and we raise awareness and we fight – not because we’re inherently altruistic people, but because the pain and badness we see in our world threatens something deep within all of us.
We all want to be happy. We want to be treated like equals. We want to be loved.
That’s where our different groups, our different communities come from – this need to come together and see the dreams we all dream about what life should be come true.
Common suffering. Common goals.
And that’s what makes the community of people who love and follow Jesus stand out. Our goals are Jesus’ goals. Our dreams are His dreams. Our enemy is His enemy. So when we fight, we fight against sin. When we plan, our goal is heaven and happiness ever after. When we dream, our dreams are of love, acceptance, peace, and joy. And these things encompass all people, all dreams. This is what we all truly want. It’s what we’re all searching for.
God’s Message To Us:
“I am what you have always been searching for.”
Centuries after the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, Jesus came to earth. And one of the thousands of awesome things He promised us was that He was building a community. In John 10:16 He calls it a sheep pen, and us, His sheep. He talks about His dream to bring all of His sheep together into one community, one fold, under one Shepherd – Him.
This is where we belong. This is our safe space. This is our home, our squad, our community. This is our Father. He doesn’t turn anyone away for how they look. He doesn’t demand perfection before you enter the community. All He asks is that you believe in Him and love Him – and then He will do the rest.
He will fight against the evil in our world.
He will shower us with the love, the acceptance, the belonging that our hearts have always longed for.
He will make us happy.
He will make our dreams come true.
What do you think? Do you think this community – of people who love and follow Jesus – has what you are searching for? If so, comment below! You’ll be contacted with details for how to join the OG squad.