“How much closer can you belong somewhere than in family adoption?”
I want to broaden this a whole bunch more, to almost epic proportions. The people i work with have this awesome almost motto to how we do youth work. and it flies in the face of how most organisations seem to want to work.
In a lot of communities the expectation is on new members to behave, then believe, then they can belong. Like a rite of passage. If you can behave just like us, then you will learn how to think like us internally and then we will allow you to belong with us, we will give you the name badge.
In the youth work we do, we have taken the opposite approach. Our crew belong. They have a place with us. We love them and want all of our crew to be involved in everything we do. We then give them that belonging space to start riffing and engaging and experimenting with Jesus. They suss out, to see if Jesus is legit. Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time. Crew have no other place that just lets them belong. So they love coming because it’s a special place where they can actually be who they are and still get to belong.
I was sitting and listening to this being explained to new students who have started working with us and it dawned on me
Belong believe behave is the gospel story
It echoes through history from the beginning of time till this moment i sit in a dinning room listening to Mumford and sons “that’s exactly how this grace thing works” (the exact line that was just sung)
God created us to belong with him in a pretty garden. (The aesthetics of which he created, and continues to create) The garden of belonging never left. The garden of belonging was never destroyed. But, as we know the story, Adam and Eve left the garden and the people of Israel decided to not belong to God as their king, they chose their own… Multiple times. The garden of Eden was forgotten about.
But God never forgot.
God never forgot that he had designed us to hang out with him intimately in a pretty place. He designed humanity to be clothed with him, unashamed, un-comparatively belonging. But, even more than that, before time he had already decided with his trinity brothers that Christ was going to come to earth and adopt us into their community.
How much closer can you belong somewhere then family adoption?
So among a billion other things – when Christ came to earth he returned us to the garden with God. Adopted not only into a family, a nation, a people, but also we returned to the paradise that God crafted with his own hands.
We see with his eyes, smell with his nose, feel with his hands, function with his power. Clothes have been designed for us that rid us of shame and comparison. We are offered meadows of joyfully coloured flowers to dance and prance in abandon to Gods love and delight.
When we enter the kingdom of God, this is what we get. Eden. Our seed is planted in the soil of perfection and watered by the holy spirit.
When Christ died he died for ALL. He took all of our sin on the cross with him. Death has no power over us because death has no power. None at all. We walk in the garden with the father, intimately.
BUT, just like the garden of Eden – Adam and Eve chose to put on leaves to hide their bits.
Adam and Eve chose to hide.
We hide. We cover our bits. We run from God. But we don’t have to. We live in the garden of Eden. When Satan tells us a half truth that, ‘God didn’t mean what he says’, we can go back to God and say
“OI, BIG FELLA – that weird leathery brosef told us you lied to us. Did you?”
and every time, God will gain our trust more, until the snake can’t say anything. Until we feel fine running naked around the place, until we never compare again.
God is good. He created belonging and fights for it every day. When we cower and refuse to talk to God because of his ‘wrath’ (which, Jesus took away #doesntexistforus) God is screaming of his love. He wants – no HE NEEDS us to know his love. Other wise he loses more of us.
Enjoy the garden.