Belonging Happens Before Believing Happens Before Behaving


I’ve been reading Floyd McClung on the subject of “Belonging before Believing before Behaving”.  He says that, wrongly, we expect people to believe in something before they can belong to it. Jesus, on the other hand, asked his followers to belong to his movement before he asked them to believe. He understood that belief is not a set of propositions to give ascent to, but a person to know, love and then obey.


McClung argues that Jesus approached building his community the opposite way that most of us do today. He invited people to join him before they understood his mission or who he was. He was inviting them into intimacy, into friendship with him. They were part of a community. 


As a general principle, then, people buy into the leader or the community before they buy into the vision or beliefs of the leader or community. Belonging precedes believing precedes behaving. Being loved and accepted comes before changing our behaviour. 


Top down hierarchy or rules that govern people’s behaviour cannot liberate people from the burden of sin nor does it introduce them to the goodness and loving kindness of God.  McClung says he has tried both. He has exercised controlling leadership and he has tried to “help” people with rules concerning their behaviour. Neither have worked and neither has helped his own soul either!


Jesus invited people to join his movement without their beliefs or their behaviour getting sorted out first.  He wanted them to believe from their heart. He was going to call upon them to die for him, and he knew that no one dies for controlling leaders and legalistic churches for the right reasons. His was a revolution of the heart.


Very radical. But right.

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