Called to belong

Before we left Australia I read an article in the Good Weekend (Sydney Morning Herald) about a writer who had moved to the UK as a young woman. She described the dislocation she felt, the longing for home, the secret viewings of Neighbours as she battled with homesickness. But she also described the challenge of reinventing herself, of starting again, of becoming someone new.

Do we ever really reinvent ourselves, I wonder? We take ourselves with us wherever we go. It is nice in a way to have the opportunity of meeting people who have less preconceptions about who we are, and are more able to accept us at face value, people who have not yet had the opportunity to see all our faults and failings. Mind you, as Australians have preconceptions about Swedes, so do Swedes have preconceptions about Australians – and these often have very little to do with who we really are.

Who we think we are must be influenced to some extent by where we are. I have wondered who I am for more years than I care to remember. Perhaps a childhood in many countries has contributed to a certain amount of identity confusion. The question of where I belong has plagued me all my life.

I was struck yesterday by a comment I read in the book of Romans, in the New Testament. Paul addresses himself to the readers of his letter saying to them, “you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” The question is not just where I belong, but to whom. Perhaps that is not a popular concept in our individualistic western world, where “I did it my way.” But psychologically I think it is terribly important – to whom do I belong?

And these few words of Paul reminded me of something I often forget – I belong to Jesus Christ. We as a family belong to each other, but we also belong to Jesus. That describes who we are and that is our reference point, one that does not need “reinventing” as we travel around the world. I have always been impressed by the film, The Last Samurai, where the hero is introduced to the meaning of the word Samurai as one who serves. The Samurai knew they belonged to the emperor. They were his and their lives were lived with one purpose only – to serve him. If that required their death they gladly submitted. There is a nobility to that kind of dedication, that kind of certainty of reason for being. Perhaps that is a good picture of what it means to belong to Jesus. As Paul mentions in the verse before, we are called to “the obedience that comes from faith.” What that may mean is the challenge of everyday life.

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