Support the Café

Search our Site

Speaking to the Soul: Belonging and Believing

Speaking to the Soul: Belonging and Believing

Week of Proper 18, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 41, 52 (morning) // 44 (evening)

Job 32:1-10, 19—33:1, 19-28

Acts 13:44-52

John 10:19-30

John’s gospel, sublime as it can be, also reflects the divisive attitudes and sectarian mentality of its early readers. Compiled around the turn of the first century, the Johannine Christians whose faith was nurtured by this gospel appear to have been isolated from other communities of worship (both synagogues and Christian assemblies), and to have had hostile relations with those who they began to label “the Jews.” For example, when some people in today’s gospel ask whether Jesus is the Messiah, they are met with a definitive statement from the mouth of Jesus: “you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.”

Might today’s communities of faith develop a different response? In today’s passage, the emphasis is on litmus tests of belief (whether Jesus is “the Messiah” / “the Christ”), and on whether people fit into the Christian community (whether they “belong”). But today’s gospel also includes a beautiful sense of Jesus’s personal connection with others and his protective care. In this gospel, Jesus says that he knows his sheep, that his sheep follow him, and that no one will ever snatch them out of his hand. It would be a shame not to share this good news with others.

This testimony is so much richer than the bare claim that Jesus is the Messiah, or that some belong and others do not. This gospel also makes us aware that a sense of belonging often must precede belief. Jesus says, “you do not believe, because you do not belong.” Indeed: How could people possibly come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed, the new king, if they don’t belong to a community that includes them in their vision of the kingdom? Although Johannine Christians didn’t focus much on welcoming and including others, we can honor their legacy of faith by reflecting their sense of God in Christ as the love that calls us his own, and that never lets us go.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Poppy StJohn

What good is it to belong to anything that you do not believe in?That would be hell!Think that is why Jesus rewarded the man to his right who admitted his guilt and witnessed for Christ while the man on his attempted to die saving face by harassing him and seeking revenge.Jesus could have split the moon into cream cheese for that man,but that would have been against his nature.

Leslie Marshall

What matters, is what Jesus’ requirements are…
1) Repent &
2) Believe.

If anyone tried to add to that, it would be superfluous.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café