I Don't Know Where I Fit   
Copyright 2003 by William Meisheid (4-1-03)

In a recent episode of the NBC television series Crossing Jordon, one of the medical examiners goes through a crisis over a "John Doe" homicide. This unknown murder victim, who appeared to be a street person, a nobody, comes to represent his own sense of loneliness and alienation. The examiner had been waiting for his U.S. citizenship to come through (his ancestry was from India by way of England), expecting it to give him the sense of belonging he was missing. It doesn't. In the closing scene of the episode he looks at his citizenship papers and says to a colleague, "I don't know where I fit. I don't know how to find my place."

He is not unique. Everyone wants to fit in, to find their place in the world they are a part of. For Christians, this includes finding our place within the church, as well as the additional concern of learning where we fit into God's plan. We look at our Christian citizenship papers and want to know what is our place in the Christian enterprise.

We all remember the famous scene of Mark 10:37 where the apostles James and John ask Jesus to let them sit at his left and right when he comes into his glory. Jesus' final response on the matter was his statement on servant hood in Mark 10 43-45

"Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Thinking about this issue of belonging and fitting in reminded me of a situation that occurred when I was a relatively new a Christian. I had a friend from college who had resisted accepting Christ for several years because she was afraid she would lose all her friends. She was afraid of being alone. When she finally took the step into life with Jesus Christ her fear was proved right. Her friends lost interest in her. This new person, no longer "the party life person", instead had become "the trying to change her life person", and she was not the kind of individual they wanted to be around. Fortunately for her she eventually developed new friends in the body of Christ, but it took time and life was seriously lonely for a while. Looking back I remember that she had several advantages in finding new Christian friends. She was attractive, outgoing, and intelligent. It helped that she was eminently lovable and willing to take risks by extending herself.

When you look at a church, especially one that has had a period of effective evangelism, it is mostly composed of people who don't know each other outside of their "church" time. That can be a problem, especially if those people have lost their previous friends by coming to Christ. Some of us are not as eminently lovable as my college friend. Some of us only have the church, but within its walls we are still isolated because it is not easy for adults to make friends, even within the church of Jesus Christ.

We all, like James and John, want to have our place in the scheme of things. While we all don't aspire to sit at the head table, we all want to know that we have a place, that we belong. Like his response to James and John, Jesus also responds to us with the answer of servant hood, with his desire for us to change our focus from ourselves to those he calls us to serve. While we can accept that intellectually, even submitting to it in practice by extending ourselves in Christian service, we still have that need to fit in, to be in the right place, to be accepted. Fortunately, Jesus did not leave us without additional solace in this area. In John 14:1-3 he says

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Jesus understands our needs. He assures us that we belong, that we fit in, that he has a place for us, and it is with him.

Within our church and the Christian church at large there are many lonely people, looking to find where they fit in, where they belong. I would like to suggest that for the month of April and in celebration of Easter that you consider making a new Christian friend. Help someone better fit into the body of Christ. On the television show I discussed at the beginning, the scene closed with one of his colleagues looking at him and saying, "You are exactly where you belong." I suggest that you tell someone in the body of Christ who might be struggling with their place in the church that "You are exactly where you belong." Extend to them the love and acceptance of Christ.