The Obvious Difference of a ‘Belonger’
By Ed Delph
July 26, 2021
We often miss the obvious. Let me illustrate with a story.
A farmer couldn't tell his two horses apart, so he tried cutting the tail off one horse. That didn't work because it grew right back. Then he cut the mane off the other horse. That didn't work either because it grew right back. Finally, he measured them and found that the white horse was two inches taller than the black horse.
One of the most significant casualties of the COVID virus has been the destruction of relationships, especially where connections are required for the best results. Zoom meetings, masks, social distancing, and fear of death, to name a few, have distanced us from one another in what should be obvious ways. It’s affected politics, marriages, business, friendships, as people, hypnotized by watching mainline and social media, become more ‘angry and relationship challenged.’ Unfortunately, it seems like the only ones who have benefitted from COVID are our dogs.
COVID restrictions have affected the church and church people also. How? By eliminating a vital aspect of the church. Let me explain.
Luciano DeCrescenzo once said, "We are all angels with only one wing; we can only fly while embracing one another." That's quite a word picture. At the beginning of time, before there was ever vision, tasks, achievement, goals, politics, and the like, there was a relationship. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit were (and are) so much in a relationship that they were called “One God.”
Becoming a Christ-follower is about connection. The church was designed by God to be upward, inward, and outward, all at the same time. Christians were intended to connect with God, connect with each other, and then connect with the community. In the context of connecting with one another (their inward ministry), we discover and embrace our other wing. The Bible says that every believer has a measure of grace. So, if I have a measure of grace and you have a measure of grace, and we connect in a godly relational way, we both move from a measure of grace to grace without measure.
That's why God designed the church to be a team. The church is called to exhibit grace without measure, or the ministry of Jesus, to the world. Teamwork makes God's dream work. When God's people connect with God and one another, it creates a 'vibe' that gets into the atmosphere of the church and then spreads to the community. Jesus pointed this out in John 13:35: 'By this, all men (the community) will know that you (God's people) are My disciples if you have love one for another." Right relationships release real ministry both inside and outside the church.
The Greek word the Bible uses to describe this supernatural synergy is “Koinonia.” Koinonia is fellowship and connection with God through the Holy Spirit and fellowship with others in the Holy Spirit. It's when people who have the Holy Spirit connect with other people who have the Holy Spirit and then relate in a way that the life of God happens among them. It's the right relationships on steroids, empowered by God. It's alive. It's beyond being friends. It’s belonging, not just believing. It’s spontaneous. It’s refreshing. It’s healing. It’s grace in action, in and among believers. It doesn’t have to be inside the four walls of the formal church. Koinonia can happen where two or three gather together in Jesus' name.
Koinonia was designed to distinguish a Christian gathering from other types of meetings. Hashtags, Twitter, iPhones, and Facebook can't compete with Koinonia. Socializing is fine, but it doesn't create the awe and wonder of the life of God flowing through and among Christ believers and ‘belongers.’
Think about it. What is the church? The church is a community of called-out ones who come into unity (oneness) around Jesus and each other. The church is where the pursuit of Christ, with others, is the ultimate goal. It’s living the Word of God, not just learning the Word of God. Our desire to pursue Christ with our church family must be more than the pain of a rebuke, the disappointment of a moral failure, and the ups and downs of church life.
The church is family. I don't choose who my family is. God does. The church is where people persevere together through the ups and downs, victories, and disappointments of life. It's growing up together. It's part of something bigger than a person is. It's more than believing. It's belonging. It's considering others, both inside and outside of the church, more important than ourselves. It also draws others to Christ as those 'belongers' find a need and meet it in the community.
It's wonderful to be a believer. But, may I say it is even better to be both a believer and a ‘belonger.’ Why? That’s where true Koinonia and angel’s wings are distributed.
Here’s our takeaway for today. Those of you who are believers, don’t let COVID get you out of the habit of going to church or a gathering of genuine believers each week. Then, assuming we are not on total lockdown, get back to where your other wings are. Get back to where you once belonged. After all, none of us is as great as all of us.
I hope the difference between a believer and a ‘belonger’ is now more obvious to you than the white and black horse was to the farmer.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com