by Shannon Caughey
We all have a desire to belong. When you first started coaching, maybe you wondered if the more-established coaches in your sport would see you as an “outsider” or accept you as “one of us.” In all types of other settings—professional, social, etc.—we evaluate whether we belong or not. There is an opportunity to belong in the most important sense, however, if we respond to the right invitation: God’s encouragement to come to him.
Psalm 100 expresses this most important invitation, speaking both to how we come to God and why we come to him. In the last two devotions, we’ve explored Psalm 100’s charge to come to God with joy (v. 1) and in worship (v.2). As we now look at v. 3, the psalmist points to this truth: according to God, we belong. Here’s what the psalmist says: “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).
In our English translation of the Bible, when Lord appears in capital letters (or small caps), it means that the original Hebrew word is “Yahweh.” Yahweh is the personal name by which God is often called. The psalmist urges us to know that Yahweh is the one true God. In the Bible, to “know” goes beyond intellectual understanding. It communicates personal, relational knowledge. We can experience who the Lord is as the one true God through a relationship with him.
How is this possible? Because the God who made us wants us to know that we belong: “we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” God desires that we find our ultimate sense of belonging through looking to him. When our faith is in the Lord, we are welcomed by him into his family, his people, his flock.
God opened the way for us to belong through coming to us. And he did this when we were outsiders because of our sin. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. The incredible reality of the manger scene in Bethlehem is that the eternal, infinite God steps into time and space in Jesus. Jesus is God coming to us—people separated from God because we rebelled against him—so that we could come to God.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:11, 14). Jesus, the good shepherd, offers us the chance to be reconciled to God through his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. When we respond in faith to Christ and what he’s done for us, we’re welcomed into our Savior’s flock. Jesus has come so we can know him personally and relationally. We now are secure in recognizing that we belong: “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
The culture around you is constantly telling you who you need to be or what you need to do if you want to be accepted. This can happen in the coaching world as well. But listen instead to the voice of the one true God as he invites you to come to him. Put your confidence in what Jesus, the good shepherd, says is true. He loves you and you are his, welcomed by him into his family. Through faith in Christ, you belong.
For reflection: Come to God with gratitude, thanking him that he welcomes you into his family when you put your trust in Christ. Allow the peace and security of knowing you belong to him wash over you.