Longing to Belong

Parents and disciple makers get it wrong when they try and form a person’s character by outward conformity.  It is putting the second thing first, the cart before the horse.  To make a disciple of Jesus begins by engrafting him into a group (family) where he belongs and then out of this belonging will flow the character of Jesus. It is the first thing.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “…you can’t get second things by putting them first.  You get second things only by putting first things first” [1]. It is fruitless to try and get your disciple to live by kingdom values or to have a right attitude if he does not understand to whom he belongs.  You will become frustrated and you will frustrate your disciple if you do not begin by helping him unite to God and to a people, which I would argue are inseparable.

Man is created in the image of God, which means he was designed to belong.  When your disciple feels disconnected his behavior will become erratic and often self-destructive as he seeks to compensate for his detachment.   He will attach himself to some inappropriate group through inappropriate bonds to give the illusion that he belongs somewhere and to someone.

When Jesus called his men to follow him, he was also calling them to belong to a group of 12 other men. Jesus formed a community not only because it flowed out his nature but also because he knew that for his disciples to live as God intended they must belong to one another through bonds formed by love.

In closing:

  • Rarely do I disciple someone apart from being with him in community.
  • A large part of the discipling process is teaching your disciple how to love and receive love and how to serve others and to be served in community.
  • Starting a discipling community is difficult as seen in Jesus’ disciples’ relationship with one another.  It is more difficult than starting a bible study, small group, or maybe even a church plant.  It takes months and years rather than weeks.  The process does become easier as your disciples learn how to love one another.

[1] C.S. Lewis, “First and Second Things,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Eerdmans, 1994), p. 280.


3 thoughts on “Longing to Belong

  1. I saw this on my ship as I started working with young Sailors. Sometimes, even after confirming (as much as one man can) salvation, I would realize that the young man didn’t know what he was doing…almost lost still, spiritually. It’s like he didn’t understand where he fit in. It was one of the first and most crucial aspects of my work. Just helping him understand that he was part of the family was so crucial.

  2. I’ll give an example. The young man had found himself in a bit of trouble in one port and couldn’t go out without someone taking responsibility for him. I had a few talks with the young man before the next port, and took responsibility for him when we got on land. I played the father role with him and brought him along with me and some of the other Christians to a Japanese church. The fact that I took responsibility for him (as an discipler should), and included him in with other Christians, showed that he belonged. He wasn’t just another guy. He was with me. That mattered to him.

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