Greetings. My name is Milton Massie, and I serve with Cru Inner City. And that ministry is a field division of Campus Crusade for Christ, formerly called that, now Cru. We’ve been around for 30+ years. And our whole purpose has been to work with inner city churches, pastors, and leaders, to join them in bringing the gospel — bringing the good news — in the context of ministry to or among the poor. The focus is also discipleship. And the focus is, not only proclamation, but demonstration also of our faith in Jesus Christ.
So, in this opportunity, I have the privilege to bring to you just a bit of some thoughts — I’ll call them my musings — on the idea or the topic of belonging. What does it mean to belong? We’re constantly wondering: “Do we belong? Do we fit? Where do we fit? Where are my people? Who is concerned about the things that I’m concerned about?” And then you compound that with being a person of color in the largest society where it’s predominantly white, obviously. And then even within Christendom and evangelical Christianity in America — where do people of color actually fit in?
I want to offer you this. Think about it from this perspective here: Instead of asking the question “Where do I belong?”, can I offer you the thought of “To whom do I belong?” Because, ultimately, that is the question that you’ve got to answer. And that’s the anchor you’ve got to hold on to continuously. Another thought you might have is this: We’ve been called into an adoption relationship with Jesus Christ. Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, bearing witness that we are His children — that’s an eternal relationship. It’s an eternal relationship.
So let me give you, though, another biblical framework, and it’s found in the book of 1 Peter. In 1 Peter, Peter addresses something in chapter two verses nine through 10. I think that will fit for where we are in our time. He says this: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own” — His own — “possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” He says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Let me tell you about some of the things I’m observing from this particular passage. And that’s this: The first thing is we’re a chosen race, a chosen race. The fact that God would choose us should excite us. Have you ever experienced — I remember when I was a kid, that when I was being chosen for a game, or to play a game with someone. And if you’re standing on the sidelines and there’s gonna be two different teams, and somebody chooses you, somebody chooses this person, the worst thing in the world was to be the last one chosen. The worst thing was being the last one because that means you didn’t have the talent that the first chosen person did. But guess what? God chose you in spite of your skill. God chose you in spite of your talent. God chose you in spite of the color of your skin. God chose you because you have His image in Him in you, and He loves you. Period. So we’re a chosen race. So automatically, we belong to the race of the chosen, we belong to the chain, to the race of the chosen.
After he says the word “chosen race,” he then says that we are part of what’s called a “royal priesthood.” Being a part of this royal priesthood allows us to be able to represent Him in every corner of the world. It means that we are allowed, in our relationship with Him, to be those who represent what it means to live righteously and to live justly in this present world. We represent the ways of Jesus Christ by being His priests everywhere. That means we can minister to one another. We can minister to those who are not believers because we’re part of His royal priesthood.
Then he says we’re a “holy nation.” Being a holy nation simply means that we are separated from the world so that we might be a part of His special use. What has He particularly called us to do? How has He called us to be? How has He called us to live? That’s what the word “holy” means: to be separated for God’s specific use. And then he says we’re not just holy, but we’re a “holy nation.” That means we’re part of a whole group of people, a whole nation of people, who have the same commitment to His holiness.
Then we’re called, according to the same verse, to proclaim Christ’s excellencies. What we’re talking about here is, what about Jesus that is excellent, good, glorious, great, praiseworthy. Can we go all around wherever we are talking about that? How can we praise Jesus with how we live? How can we praise Jesus in our relationships with one another? How can we talk about His excellencies? To those who are without hope? That’s what we’re talking about here. When you are called to proclaim His excellencies because you are in Christ, you are a part of this holy nation, this royal priesthood, this chosen race. Who do you belong to? My goodness, the family ties that you have are for eternity.
Then he says we’ve been called out of darkness into His marvelous light. We’ve been called away from the domain and the dominion of evil and wickedness that we once walked in as unbelievers. That was our lifestyle. That’s who we were. That’s what we did. And that’s something to praise God for, that He called you out of that. He called me out of that. And now I’m walking in marvelous — that is, glorious — then there’s something — you want something that’s really, something that’s awesome, or something that’s worthy of me being awestruck is that I’ve been called out of darkness into this marvelous — I marvel at this light, this light of eternity that lives in me because now we are light in the world. The Bible says that once we were darkness, but now we are light in the world. That’s what Paul says in Ephesians. Jesus Himself says He’s the light of the world, and now because we’re in Him, we also are the light of the world. What does the Scripture tell us in Matthew 5? That we’re supposed to let our light shine. His marvelous light in us allows us now to be light in this world.
Now, I think something that would be really encouraging to you: Once we were not a people. Now we are a people. We’re God’s people. Instead of asking a question: “Who am I? Who are my people?” The question I need to ask is: “Whose am I? To whom do I belong?” I’m not gonna poopoo or slam on you if you deal with that emotion. But here’s what it reminds me of. It reminds me of this: On this side, it’s going to be that way. But it doesn’t mean we quit. It doesn’t mean that we don’t exercise righteousness and justice where we are. But it does remind me of this, and this is the last thing that he says: Once we were without mercy, now we are recipients of mercy. And guess what? Just like I want mercy, I’ve got to extend mercy to others, even those who do not look like me, and who are still struggling with trying to accept me as the Imago Dei, having Imago Dei in me, looking at me as if my Imago Dei is somehow cheaper.
But I’m saying this: Ultimately, with my friend, my friend Marlon told me, “The commitment vertically is what anchors you horizontally.” Make sure your anchor is in the vertical, with the One to whom you belong, as you’re walking among those who seem to treat you as if you don’t belong. God bless you. And I pray you enjoy the rest of your time.