Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. -John 15:13-15
I remember it like it was yesterday. Why? Because it’s hard to forget feeling forgotten. I was working at a summer camp and the other counselors had all gone on an adventure together. I was working in the office when I heard that they had left and I felt the tinge of pain. I quickly told myself, “No, they must have just forgotten that I was working or maybe they didn’t want to disturb me.” But really I was telling myself “They didn’t want me to come along. They don’t think I am fun. They don’t want to be my friends. I don’t belong.”
Unfortunately, little moments like these happen all the time. I want to belong. I want a group of people to call me theirs. Heck, I just want people to call me. I want to be invited to the group hang outs, the late night ice cream runs and spontaneous volleyball games. It’s awful when you don’t feel wanted. When you never get the group text to hang out and you have to witness it later on Instagram? It hurts. It feels like you’ve been wronged.
Thankfully, I can take this hurt to a God who reminds me that He already called me to belong to Him. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.” (John 15:13-15). We belong in God’s social circle. Filling ourselves with God’s truths allows our internal compass to always point back to the promise that we were always wanted from the beginning of time.
Even though God satisfies us, it doesn’t mean we still don’t have to live in community with people. There are still things we have to work through and Christ is our ultimate example.
Some of those men Jesus called friends, even brothers, are the same men that turned their back on him. They pretended not to know him and even gave him over to be murdered in public. They wronged him, no doubt. Can you fathom the amount of hurt and betrayal Christ felt?
When it feels like I’ve been wronged, it is easy to want to turn my back on people. That day at camp I protected my hurt feelings by ignoring those friends. I pretended like I didn’t need them to be happy and that I was having a perfectly good time without them. Have you played out this narrative? When friends don’t invite us we respond by saying, “Forget you, I don’t need you as my friend. I’m not going to let you hurt me. And the only way I can deal with that is to ignore you and make you feel the same way I did.”
And guess what? That didn’t do me any favors. Nothing good came from my bitterness. I only isolated myself more.
When Christ was wronged, he didn’t isolate his friends. He chose to lay down his life so that we could be welcomed into intimate fellowship with Him. We rejected him and he still felt like we deserved the gift of friendship. What? God loves us so much that He STILL wanted us, he still brought us into His family and He still called us friends despite our rejection? What kind of God is this?
This sacrifice shows me that we need to lay down our lives and place them in God’s hands. Our belonging starts and ends with Him. An abundant feeling of belonging gives us the strength to love despite rejection.
Relationships are a sacrifice. If we go back to John 15, we see Jesus defining friendship as laying down our lives for our friends.
Community is not about our happiness but, about living out day-to-day life with others that may be marked by weakness, difficulty, and failure. Thankfully, it’s also marked by Christ’s love, grace, and joy.
Allow the knowledge of your belonging to impact the way you treat others and invite them to belong. When your friends intentionally or unintentionally make you feel unwanted, find your security in Christ who laid down his life so you would always belong.
What is your gut response when you hear that Christ laid down his life for you, his friend?
How are you taking your abundant belonging and passing it down to others?
How do you see yourself as an agent of creating a space of belonging in your community?
When you begin to feel “left out” or “lonely” extend an invitation to a friend to spend time together. You never know, she may be feeling the same way.