Romans 8:16 reminds us of this incredible thread that we belong and that we have not been left alone. The need to belong is a fundamental human need, put there by God. It says, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”
If we are God’s children, then we belong and in this we have our identity too. When the early church read that passage, they understood the Roman culture of the day and it revolutionized their thinking. In the Roman society of Jesus’ day, abortion and infanticide were widely practiced. The early followers of Jesus were very active in saving the lives of children. If a Roman family didn’t want a child, they would send a slave to leave the infant on the walls of the city to die of exposure or be eaten by wild animals during the night. In some places, believers would be on watch 24/7 in an effort to rescue all living infants placed in the dump. And, we are called to do the same. This doesn’t mean that we are all to adopt children, but we are called to create a sense of belonging. First of all, for our biological and adopted or foster children, and then, to the broader spiritual family of Christ.
As we go about making disciples and loving those right in front of us – be it our children or the person we are reaching out to, we show them that they have a place to belong. It always starts at home. We model and we live out of our values. If we want to create spiritual family in disciple-making then we need to create family at home first. What does this look like?
Well, for starters we teach our children to love each other. Secondly, we live a life that we would want our children to imitate. Thirdly, we take our children along with us on the journey. This means that we model inclusion. We include them in our lives, we teach them how to hear God’s voice and to grow in loving obedience to His Word. We open our hearts to them. Then, we start to do the same with those we are discipling. We reproduce who we are in Christ and we remind them, that when they receive God’s Spirit, He has adopted them into His family and as a result they, too, can call Him, Abba!
Mandi Hart is a Senior Leader at our regional hub, All Nations Cape Town. To read more from Mandi, check out her website.