Andrew Fountain - Abandonment & Belonging

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Sermon notes - Abandonment & Belonging

  • Three weeks ago, Richard & Tricia spoke about God the Father and what that means.
  • Two weeks ago we looked at the God the Father’s compassion for us
  • Last week it was about receiving comfort from God so we can give it out to others
  • I want to follow on from that and talk about being part of God’s Family
    • If God is our Father, then we are not abandoned, but we belong


  1. Abandonment & Belonging
  2. God’s Plan for how we belong
  3. How we receive this
  • This is one of my favourite verses:

Isaiah 49

  1. Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
    For the LORD has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.
  2. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
    my Lord has forgotten me.”
  3. “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
    Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
  4. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.
  • Have you ever said to yourself: “I don’t belong! I don’t fit in!”



Image source: Finisp3

1. Abandonment & Belonging

1. Abandonment & Belonging

  • What does it mean to have a sense of “abandonment”?
  • I don’t belong
  • There is nobody like me
  • I am different
  • I don’t fit
  • I don’t have anywhere that is really “home”
  • I am rejected and abandoned
  • There is nobody to take care of me if everything goes bad—I’ll be isolated
  • We all need to belong
    • At high schools you see kids desperately trying to find a group that accepts them
    • How can you tell what group a teenager identifies with?
      • clothes
      • music
      • hairstyle
      • way of talking
  • Would you agree with me that it’s very important for kids at highschool to feel they belong?
    • It’s a very strong need that we all have
  • People make friends with someone “like them”
    • I can’t believe how similar we are!
    • We like all the same things
  • People fall in love with someone “like them”
    • I remember hearing a girl saying “we are so similar—can you believe it—we both like chocolate!!!”
    • Anne and I spent hours going through all the music we liked and books we has read
    • It is such fun to discover a person who is just like you!
  • Conversely it is horrible when there is nobody like you!
    • My strongest feeling of “not belonging” was when I was young I visited a friend in France

Strange Basketball

Strange Basketball

Image source: Mister Bijou

  • He asked if I wanted to play basketball, so I said “sure”
    • He dropped me off at a gym where I knew absolutely nobody
    • I could speak a little French but even so nobody spoke to me
    • they were playing some strange ball game I didn’t know the rules to
    • I felt so isolated and “I do not belong here” that it was almost physically painful
  • Actually nobody is exactly like you
    • Even the person who is closest to you will inevitably let you down in some way
    • That’s the reality of living in a broken world

David’s son and best friend plot to kill him

David's son and best friend plot to kill him

Image source: thebiblehistorybooks

  • Jesus experienced the full force of this pain
    • King David had an experience when his own son Absalom tried to kill him and take over the empire
    • But what hurt him most was that one of his dearest friends, Ahithophel, betrayed him and joined his enemies

David wrote in Psalm 41

  1. All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another; they plan ways to harm me.
  2. Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me.
  • Jesus quoted this verse and applied it to Judas
  • Jesus reveals that he had a tender care toward Judas
    • Jesus was fully God, but he was also fully human, he could love and be disappointed
    • Even though he knew Judas would eventually betray him, he could honestly say:
      “Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me.”
  • Jesus understands what it’s like not to fit, to feel “different”
    • there was, in fact, nobody like him!!
    • he really didn’t fit in
      • If you think you have trouble fitting in...
    • This must have been really hard!!
    • Yet he reached out to others and formed really close attachments
      • The last supper—he was longing to spend the time with them
        • With a passionate desire I have desired to eat this meal with you.
      • And how did they respond? —did they say “we’re with you, right to the end...” (one of them did!)
  • but then all the rest of the 12 disciples abandoned him
    • he was totally alone
    • Jesus understands what it feels like to be alone

Isaiah 53:3

  1. He was despised and rejected by men;
          a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
    one from whom people hid their faces
          he was despised, and we valued him as nothing.
  • Does that sound like abandonment and rejection?
  • And then even God his Father abandoned him!
  • But this worst abandonment led to the best possible belonging...
    • through Jesus’ resurrection
    • In being raised from the dead, Jesus has created A New Community

2. God’s Plan for how we belong

John 17:9-24

  1. I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you.
  2. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them.
  3. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.
  4. When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me. Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction, so that the scripture could be fulfilled.
  5. But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.
  6. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
  7. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.
  8. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world.
  9. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.
  10. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
  11. And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart.
  12. “I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony,
  13. that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
  14. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one
  15. I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
  16. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

based on NET Bible

  • Before he died, Jesus prayed an amazing prayer
    • probably the most amazing prayer in the whole of the Bible
    • so good it’s hard to believe it’s true
    • put in bold the things I want to focus on
    • It is amazing that Jesus is talking about the level of unity between us being like that between him and his father!!
      • The unity that his people are going to have is on a level with them
      • spirit-to-spirit union. No fear
    • “Belonging” and “rejecting” language is being used (scroll up)
      • “Joined” at a deep spiritual level
    • So how can this happen?
  • This must be an important issue if Jesus spent so much of his last few hours praying about it.
    • Read this passage if you feel you need more of a sense of belonging.
    • Let these words seep into you like water into dry soil
  • Choose to believe what Jesus said
    • The opposite of belief is unbelief
    • The oposite of Jesus is Satan
    • Chose to believe Jesus’s promise of belonging, not Satan’s lies
  • So how can this happen?
    • Jesus had made a promise about the Holy Spirit in John 14

John 14:16-23

  1. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
  2. even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
  3. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
  4. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
  5. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
  6. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and show myself to him.”
  7. Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will show yourself to us, and not to the world?”
  8. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

based on NET Bible

  • Could you get any more extreme opposite from being abandoned to “make our home with him”
  • The Holy Spirit is the promise
    • He is the carrier of this “piece of Jesus”
  • This is how it works:
    • Here we are in a world of misfits and broken friendships
    • Jesus didn’t try and patch up this old world and just help us to feel better in this mess
    • He started something completely new and brought his people, one by one, into it
    • He brings us in, by giving us a piece of himself, to live in us
      • As we receive him, we receive some of this new creation, this new community
  • Receiving something unique makes us part of a new group
    • In my last year of Junior high, there were about 30 kids in the class
    • everyone was going to different high schools
    • About 4 (including me) were going to a school called King Edward’s
    • Suddenly we were friends (we hadn’t been before) because we had all been given something, we all shared something
      • The future that we shared had brought us all together
  • First going to the USA
    • citizens or “aliens”
  • Process of coming to Canada and feeling we belonged
    • student visa, work permit, landed immigrant (resident), citizen, driver’s license
    • As you receive something, it brings you into a new community
    • Jesus’ gift to us of himself is what unites us
  • I am going to give you a rather risky illustration (because I don’t want you to take it wrongly)
    • Story of John Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos
  • What this looks like in practice is the church, called a “body” by Paul
    • Many places we could look at
    • Paul talks about this in Ephesians 4:1–7

Ephesians 4:1-7

  1. I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called,
  2. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
  3. making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling,
  5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
  6. one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
  7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

based on NET Bible

  • There is a very powerful image of how this works in 1 Corinthians 12:4–27
    • Although its a long passage, I’d like to go through some of it. v12f
    • (Note it all happened through the Spirit)
    Just look at highlighted verses in:

1 Corinthians 12:4-27

  1. For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ.
  2. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.
  3. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.
  4. If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.
  5. And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.
  6. If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell?
  7. But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.
  8. If they were all the same member, where would the body be?
  9. So now there are many members, but one body.
  10. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.”
  11. On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential,
  12. and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity,
  13. but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member,
  14. so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another.
  15. If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honored, all rejoice with it.
  16. Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.

based on NET Bible

  • Does it sound like belonging or abandonment?
    • It’s not trying to work up some kind of feeling of belonging
    • That won’t work
    • It only works if we really belong
      • And we really do, and we are all needed

3. How we receive this

3. Receiving this

  1. You need to belong to Jesus to have his Spirit
  2. It is by faith in Jesus’ words that we enter into this
    • Opposite of faith is unbelief
    • We need to take these truths and grab hold of them
    • You are loved and needed!

Romans 8

  1. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…
  2. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  3. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Updated on 2017-06-28 by Andrew Fountain