Receiving Others as Gifts: People Belong to God

Belonging

In a previous post in this series on Receiving Others as Gifts I talked about not taking others for granted, that they are not objects for us to use. I want to go a step further with that to emphasize that people belong to God.

 

People belonging to God has (at least) four important implications:

 

1. We Need to Honor & Respect Others

The other people we encounter in life, as God’s beloved creations, deserve the respect that we give to God.

In college I once wrote a paper talking about the importance of both loving God and loving neighbor. I wrote about these actions as if they were two separate realities.

My professor pointed out that these are really two sides of the same coin.

It simply doesn’t work to say we honor God when we dishonor God’s created people.

 

2. We’re Not the Boss of Other People

Overtly acknowledging that others belong to God underscores that they do not belong to us.

We serve alongside one another in mutuality and we give and receive meaningful companionship but others are free to give or withhold these as honors their own commitment to God.

Others’ participation in service and companionship is not for us to coerce but for them to discern.

It is important for us to honor their boundaries about what they are or are not willing to do.

 

3. We Can Learn About God from Others

Another implication of others belonging to God is that many times we can learn from them about God.

As each of us are designed by our creator to be in communion with him, sometimes others may be tuning in to God in ways that we aren’t currently. As such, we can glean insights and inspiration from their encounters with our God.

Obviously, as a church professional married to a pastor I believe that there are formal roles in which this can happen.

But a person does not have to be super religious or a trained professional to have encounters with God from which the rest of us can learn.

It is easy to settle into our own views about and experiences with God. But God is at work in the lives of others too.

Our lives can be enriched by remaining open to God’s movement in and through others.

 

4. Different by Design

In my post about “giftedness” I talked about the idea that others are different from us. Whether we find these differences enjoyable or annoying, it is important to recognize that many of the differences among us are by God’s design.

God created each of us as unique individuals. Our giftedness comes from God.

Discrimination against or dismissal of others’ uniqueness is a failure to recognize God at work in each person. But by honoring their differences, we honor their belonging to God.

 By honoring others as God’s beloved creations, giving them the freedom to choose how they serve and with whom to associate, learning from them about our amazing God, and respecting their uniqueness we show a deep respect for them. In these ways we show with our actions that we embrace the idea that they do not belong to us, but to God.

Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series: