Lovewell: A Theology - Day 2

John 8:47
Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.

What does it mean to belong to God?

This text seems to note that if you belong to God, you actually listen to the words God says. The text itself is an indictment of those who were accusing Jesus of having a demon possessing him. Jesus wasn’t having it, and reminded them that one of the reasons that they don’t understand what he is saying is that they have never decided to belong to God in the way that God is offering belonging. Once they have belonged to God, they begin to listen differently.

What do you believe it means to belong to God? Is it salvation? Is it forgiveness? Is it something more tangible? And how can you know for sure that you belong to God?

I guess this concept of listening is worth a mention. Jesus says that anyone who belongs to God will “gladly” listen to what God has to say. And I wonder how often we can say that about ourselves?

Sometimes, listening to God is pretty painful. Sometimes, the words of God are less a healing balm, but words that are to evoke action, movement, and of course, love. While those words can be difficult to hear, when we have an understanding that God has included us in everything that he has for us, that we belong to God and that belonging isn’t going anywhere, we begin to hear those words very differently.

This may be a bad metaphor, but when you are dating someone, words of criticism, true or not, often lead to a breaking of the relationship. However, once there has been a commitment made through marriage, those words of criticism are taken in a different spirit. (of course, if there are only words of criticism, there are other issues in the marriage that need to be addressed). However, once my wife and I were married, those words were heard not as a simple criticism of behavior, but as a way to better understand this person that I belonged to now! Understanding began to be the mission and vision of the criticism or misunderstanding. What I mean is that when I stopped having to worry about anyone leaving the relationship the way I heard those things changed. A good relationship will move critique toward understanding, and understanding becomes the way that we continue to belong together so many years later.

Without this understanding of unmitigated belonging, the words that we hear from God can at times seem harsh and critical. However, when we understand that these words are given from a place of belonging, then we understand that sometimes hard words come from those that love us the most and are for a greater purpose, for self-understanding, for correction, and for trajectory. The words we hear from a God of belonging become wisdom, hope and grace, rather than simple criticism, direction, or declaration. The words are softer, mean more, and are given in a spirit of care and connectedness.

We don’t cease to belong to God just because there is something that God would like us to understand. Rather, we belong to God more profoundly because of the willingness that exists to continue to grow, to learn, and to share the important things about our lives together.

  1. When you listen to the voice of God in your life, what does it say? 
  2. How can you be sure it is God’s voice? 
  3. Do you take these words in a spirit of gladness, or frustration and fear? 
  4. Do hard words continue to grow your understanding of belonging and how much God loves you? 
  5. Are these words tempered with grace and compassion? 
  6. How do we know what God is wanting to say to us specifically? 
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