You Belong | Have a Little Faith
It’s not about what your family thinks or how many friendsgiving dinners you attend. Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber shares a powerful message about how your sense of self is really connected to your spirituality this holiday season.
NADIA BOLZ-WEBER: I know this is a little weird, but I spend more time wondering what Thanksgiving dinner at Pontius Pilate's mom's house might be like than I probably should. Pilate was a fairly powerful guy, being the Roman governor over Judea and all. He was like a big fish in a small pond, as we say, and he acted like a big deal in front of Jesus. But I started thinking about what he'd act like at his mom's house at Thanksgiving. Would he be relegated to the kids' table in the kitchen and like a chair too small for his status in the world? Would he irritate his siblings by starting all his sentences with, "Well, as the governor"? Would he stay as briefly as possible, waiting until he could get away to his friend's house and drink beer and watch the game?
How would Pilate's identity change in the context of his family of origin? Now, of course, that's a thoroughly modern and mostly American question, but I'd argue, it's still ours to ask, the point being that identity comes from a sense of belonging. See, we all have to know where we belong in order to know who we are. And if there were a time of year that we are faced with this, it's definitely during the holidays, capital T, capital H, a time when issues of belonging and identity and family come up for so many of us. Like maybe you still feel obliged to spend holidays with your family because you're supposed to belong with them, but belonging is never what you feel because your family can't love you well the way your friends can, and it's painful to realize that.
Or maybe, you lost your parents too soon, and you quietly fume this time of year, when your friends complain that their mom is a chain-smoking neat freak, and their dad watches too much football, because, well, you do anything to have one more Thanksgiving with your parents, despite their shortcomings. Regardless, the reason I think about belonging and identity as we enter the holidays is that Jesus said this weird thing to Pilate. He said, "Those who belong to the truth listen to his voice," which to me, means that we belong to God in a different way than we belong to our family or our church or our gym.
So as we enter the holidays, remember that your belongingness to God is simply not determined by your family of origin, or economic status, or friend group. It's not determined by religiosity, moral purity, or political category. Your belongingness is determined by the voice of the One who created you, and really, nothing else gets to tell you who you are, not even at Thanksgiving.