Have you ever stumbled across a rerun of the sitcom Cheers when flipping through TV channels? I’ve often thought that the theme song—“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”—should describe the church.

The words speak to the human need to belong, to be accepted, whether by a peer group at school, co-workers, a sports team, a social group or a faith community. A sense of real belonging is more than being acquainted with other people. It involves being accepted, valued and supported, and reciprocating that same attention to others in the group. The need to belong can drive changes in attitudes, behaviours and beliefs to fit within the group.

American children’s author Dr. Seuss asked the question, “Why are you trying to fit in when you were made to stand out?” Scripture tells us that we are created in the image of God, created to be in community, while at the same time being unique individuals. Finding our fit, fulfilling our need to belong, must bring together the uniqueness of who we are and the community with whom we share life. All of this happens best in the context of belonging to God, made possible because he has reconciled the world to himself through Christ (see Colossians 1:19-20).

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, calls us to respond to the love of God by offering our individual lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him (see Romans 12:1). He further reminds us that because we find our fit, our belonging, in Christ, we are not to copy the behaviours and customs of this world but instead allow God to transform us by renewing our minds.

The communities of our world need us to stand out and be beacons of light and hope as followers of Jesus, as holy people. We can be the place where people find belonging, in discovering they belong to God. We can be the place where people want to go, where everybody knows their name.

Photo: Damion Hamilton/Lightstock.com

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