“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them. Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”
The above quote comes from Kelly Marie Tran, an actress best known for her work as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi (New York Times, August 21, 2018.) I highlight it here because it captures so well the twin two cores that mark us as humans, namely our need for a story to believe and a place to belong. What we believe at our core provides meaning for our life; it tells us who we are and what our purpose is. One of the key markers of our present cultural moment is the lack of purpose in the lives of so many. In contrast, the invitation to be a Jesus follower, through an ongoing belief in his finished work, provides ultimate meaning and purpose for those that choose to walk that path.
Corresponding with the invitation to believe is the invitation to belong to the community of Jesus’ followers. Again, this cultural moment is characterized by intense loneliness and isolation. We are separated and grouped as people only to be discarded. But Jesus says you are mine and extends the invitation to belong to the body of Christ, in real, authentic ways.
Interestingly, the story of God’s people in the Exodus is also a story of belief and belonging. The Exodus is a journey of redemption from slavery to freedom. But it is a journey that is fraught with questions. Will we believe the God of our fathers over the power of our overlords and their gods which seem all to real? Will we believe enough to follow into unseen places, even if it means losing the only home we have? The story of the Exodus is a story of all God’s people as we see first hand how he turns turns our belief, often emanating weakly from the dark places of life, into glorious belonging as he reminds us that we are His own!
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:4–6a
I am excited to start this journey together.