One of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories is “The Adventure of the Second Stain.” Holmes is sought out by the Prime Minister to locate a missing document that disappeared from the dispatch box of the Secretary of State. It concerned a foreign power and if the letter fell into the wrong hands it would be dire consequences. Holmes pursues the investigation and traces the source to the Secretary’s wife, who stumbled upon the missing letter but was unable to return it for reasons of personal implication. She comes to Sherlock for help. The box is always in the possession of the Secretary; how could they replace it, to make it look like it was always there?
Despite their objections, Holmes convinces the Secretary to look once more in the dispatch box. In the meantime he manages to slip the letter in, right under their noses, making it appear that it was somehow hidden amongst other papers. The Secretary was ecstatic: “Thank you. Thank you. What a weight from my heart. But this is inconceivable, impossible! Mr. Holmes, how did you know it was there?” His reply: “Because I knew it was nowhere else.”
Everyone is born with “designer cravings.” God created the human spirit with certain longings, one of which is the longing for intimacy, chiefly with God Himself and also with people. Needless to say, parents wield tremendous power to help establish a healthy foundation in this regard. This is conveyed with words but mainly with actions, including the investment of quality time. We all want to experience what it is to belong, to receive the message: We enjoy you; we love being with you; we are so glad that we are family.
A beautiful description of belonging is found in John’s gospel. Jesus and the Father have come into my life, making their home in me. I am indwelt by the presence of the Godhead. Jn. 14:23 There is “Another” living in me. Life is the wonderful adventure and progressive discovery of the depths of this mystical union. There’s a wonderful “bounce back” effect as well: The kinship we feel with God makes us secure to relate to people and the kinship we feel with people imbibes us with fresh reassurance to approach God.
The concept of “belonging to another” is clearly expressed in this verse: “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Rom. 7:4 ESV (emphasis mine) “The death of Christ on the cross had made you “dead” to the claims of the Law, and you are free to give yourselves in marriage, so to speak, to another, the one who was raised from the dead, that you may be productive for God.” (J.B.Phillips-emphases mine) The Apostle Paul uses the marriage metaphor to illustrate the profound depth of what it means to be one with Christ.
Another exhortation from Paul: “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:17-20 (emphases mine) We belong to another.
In the next chapter, he continues the theme of sexual purity under the banner of marital intimacy. Victory over sexual temptation for husbands and wives is greatly supported by an ongoing, healthy sexual interaction. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Cor.7:4 The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. (The Message-emphasis mine) We belong to another.
Belonging has been likened to inseparability. “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:39 When I encounter married couples who have grown distant, even to the point of seeking separation, I inquire as to their felt sense of belonging in God. In most cases, if one wanes, so does the other. But when it comes to restoration, the same principle holds true. If I press into a restored sense of belonging in God, I will have the resource to pursue the restoration needed in my marriage.
Discovery marks the end of the search. When you’ve found what you’re looking for, there’s no need to keep looking. The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price illustrate this principle. Selling everything and investing in the kingdom of heaven is the only reasonable response. How did I know that I would find life’s fulfillment in Christ? Because I came to the place where I knew – it was nowhere else.
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