Do you remember your first experience of feeling that you belonged? Our earliest memories may be our familial bonds with parents and siblings, also to a wider family and then pre-school and school itself. At school, we always wore a uniform and as we moved up into High School the dress code for class and physical education was quite strict, to instill in us a sense of belonging, pride in our school and our performance.
On the sports field, a team with a smart uniform usually played well because that same attention to detail was reflected in their performance as well as appearance. I remember the first time I saw my name posted on the team list. That was a special sense of belonging to the team. While team sports still require a uniform, not all schools require the same dress code.
How things have changed for many in our society as the values of today have displaced the standards of our past. Many changes may well be for good reasons, promoting creativity and the uniqueness of every person. Uniforms were expensive and would cost many families more than they could afford. However, once the uniform had been dropped, I wonder how many hours were wasted wondering what to wear and how many people felt uncomfortable because they could not afford to keep up with the peer pressure to follow the latest fashion. Despite the cost, the advantage of the uniform that was, it levelled the playing field.
Belonging to Jesus and being a member of the Body of Christ gives us the distinction of both belonging to the kingdom of God, being in this world but not belonging to this world. For, we are called to walk the road less travelled and to swim against the tide by not following the crowd.
As a sportsman, I found it easy to be self-disciplined with clean living and early bedtimes even if it meant foregoing a party or a late-night movie. Likewise, the Christian will often face the dilemma between staying out late and rising early to pray or attend Sunday worship. Following Christ’s example may place us in danger or at least discomfort but this is a good sign that we are on the right path.
In Matthew 16:25-26, Jesus said,
25 “whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
The crowd may seem attractive and inviting, they take the easy way, for the path and the path of least resistance is wide and comfortable, but often yields poor results.
Instead, let us choose God’s team every time together with the suffering we may endure because fighting the good fight against temptation and compromise will result in the richest rewards.
1 Fight the good fight with all your might,
Christ is your strength and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
your joy and crown eternally.
2 Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
lift up your eyes, and seek his face.
Life with its way before us lies;
Christ is the path and Christ the prize.
John S.B. Monsell