In this postmodern generation, American culture has changed dramatically from how community was experienced 50 years ago. Decades ago, neighbors were friends; block parties were common. Families, for the most part, lived near one another, and they chose occupations that would insure nearness. Babysitters were scarcely heard of because family members vied for the post of caring for their little ones. Tangible love was shared.
In contrast, the results of these cultural changes are the feelings of alienation. There’s a great lack of ability to belong among God’s children. If we understand the concept of belonging, we know that it means we are an essential part of something, which assures us of God-intended emotional needs being met. He wisely designed us to need one another — not just across the room, across town, nor reduced to a simple “like” on Facebook. And if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves testing our popularity by how many social media responses we get.
While starving to belong, our current society balks at the price of commitment we must pay to insure the sense of belonging. Most will fiercely demand the right to move about, thus denying themselves of the true sense of belonging. People forget how to involve themselves in intimacy in relationships. Bonding fails to take place. Thus, one roams about, as Jesus said, “like sheep without a shepherd.” To make it worse, those roaming about feel guilty for needing to belong!
Loneliness is an epidemic. Suicides are grand-scaled. Anxiety medications are making pharmaceutical companies rich. Yet communication through technology increases at such a rapid pace that one can hardly keep up with it. These increased means of communication do not satisfy a sense of belonging. Sound bytes and text messages do not convey the warmth of touch, they don’t display gestures, nor do they effectively convey words from the heart. Many are grossly misunderstood. We are forgetting how to deeply love one another…and are forgetting how to express that love.
Changing scenery does not meet the need of belonging. Vacation spots offer the beautiful surroundings, but they lack the intimate content from relationships. Interacting with people, though realizing their “warts and all,” and working out our differences affords the assurance of connecting. Jesus called us together while knowing that we were made as one body. Anything other than oneness as His body becomes freakish.
We’ve sadly become members of an independent society at the high price of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. If we offer ourselves the ‘fillers’ of television, social media, and distance-relating, our mental and emotional deficiencies will remain, thus creating a sick soul.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And love your neighbor as yourself.” [relaxed quote of our Lord’s words] He provided no substitutions. Our Lord knew our innermost, never-changing needs, and He hears our desperate cries today. His solution to the lack of belonging: Put Him first, and our neighbor next. Cease to apologize for needing one another. Stop reducing relationships to lazy forms of expressions. Put down roots that cannot easily nor habitually be uprooted. Take time to love one another through warm expressions. Listen to the cry of each others’ hearts that say: “I need you.”