Longing to Belong: The Book of Ephesians

August 17, 2022 | Jeff Patton

Those who know me, know: “I LOVE QUOTES!” I started collecting quotes on every subject imaginable over 35 years ago and I have a huge metal box full of 3" x 5" index cards with quotes on them to prove it. 

One of my “all time” favorites is from Tim Keller where he says:

"To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

Read these words again: “To be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.” I couldn’t agree more. You and I were created with a longing to belong.

From the very day we entered the world, we have longed for attention, attachment, and affection. It is written into our DNA. This quest has led most of us on wild goose chases where we have experienced temporary highs and profound lows. Yet, at the end of the day, we are always left craving more, longing to belong.

Maybe our 1st thought is that this craving is just my craving. There is a loud voice that shouts to us, “you are the ONLY one with this desire!”  When we hear this voice, it would be wise to recall the words of C.S. Lewis:

“Be advised to remember that the devil is a liar.”

Can I get an "Amen?"  Oh, the lies that he espouses. The reality is our craving to belong is universal. From the prosperous to the pauper and everyone in between, we, as humans, crave to belong.  Our tendency is to drift our way through life from mirage to mirage, all leading to disappointment and dead ends.

Belonging isn’t an abstract psychological state—it is our primary human need. Beyond food and shelter, nothing promotes human flourishing like knowing and being secure in who we are and whose we are. As a matter of fact, research has shown that the most satisfied individuals in life are those who have a place to belong.

The Book of Ephesians provides that "place" via a person. In it, the great apostle Paul writes in the first three chapters that we belong to God in Christ, and because of that, we no longer belong to ourselves or to the world. These chapters speak of us being "dead," yet because of being "In Christ" we are now "ALIVE."

Paul uses the phrase “In Christ” in Ephesians many times to drive home to us the truth that we do indeed belong—to Him! When we’re secure in who we are in Christ, we can now become who we were created to be as fully adopted children of God. The layers of protection that have often surrounded us can begin to fall away and true spiritual transformation can begin. In Christ, we find true belonging, for true belonging is being both fully known and fully loved by the only one who FULLY knows and FULLY loves us.

Ephesians, also takes this vertical truth of being in Christ and applies it to our horizontal relationships in chapters 4 and 5. It tells us that our new position in Christ does indeed affect our daily practice here on earth.  It provides the source of our new unity with each other and our new walk where we live lives worthy of our calling in Christ. Put another way, we are to be "children of light" to each other and those around us.  

Lastly, it reminds us in chapter 6 of our true enemy.

I, probably like you, am tired of chasing the goose only to wind up empty handed. So, join me and our body as we dive into the book of Ephesians and what we are calling “Life and Light.” We’ll kick off this new book on August 21st. Start now reading through the book of Ephesians. It will only take you 20 minutes to finish the entire book. As you do this, soak in its truth and pray as Paul did in Ephesians 1:16-19a:

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe."

God wants to use His word to change you! D.A. Carson put it best when he said:

“God’s purpose for the men and women he redeems is not simply to have them believe certain truths but to transform them in a lifelong process that stretches toward heaven.”

P.S. I prove once again that I for sure LOVE QUOTES.