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What Do You Belong To? A Life-or-Death Question

Jesus looked at him and loved him[1]–the earnest young man who walked away.

He looked at him–straight through him probably. Jesus saw who this man was and who he was not. He loved him. Even though he probably knew that the man couldn’t follow him. At least, not yet.

“With God nothing is impossible.”

I don’t think that we hear the end of that man’s story. Just the burning question that brought him to Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus called it the Kingdom of God. This is a here-and-now kind of kingdom. Eternal life means “the life of the ages.”

What does it take to enter into and participate in the kingdom of God?

Everything and nothing.

Everything. The cost is everything you belong to. Nothing. You don’t bring anything in with you. Just you. It is a long, hard, slow process getting down to just you.

This earnest young man could not easily leave his life–his wealth–he belonged to it.  And so he sadly walked away.

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

With God nothing is impossible.

God undoes us.

God mends us.

God is in the letting go.

It’s hard. It’s hard to let go of your belongings–the things that belong to you, the things that you belong to.

Frederick Buechner advises: “Don’t start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks. . . ”

This story asks important questions– life-and-death questions.

What must I do?  What is keeping me from participating in God’s kingdom here and now? What is keeping me from seeing what is Real? What am I belonging to that is holding me back from God? What am I having a hard time leaving behind?

Lately, I have been learning how to belong in my feet right where I am. I am learning to belong to God. I am learning that we all belong to each other. These belongings are life-changing. Maybe we need to let go of the small belongings in our lives in order to realize and experience our true Belonging.

What are my small belongings? The ones that I need to release?

Do I belong to my roles? To my church? To my job? To my home? To the expectations of my parents? To the opinions of others?

Do I belong to the past? To mistakes that I’ve made? To slights that I’ve received? To my accomplishments?

Do I belong to my plans for the future?

Do I belong to something unknown and better that always lies just ahead–out of reach, out of sight, but coming hopefully someday? Do I belong to the time when I will finally be able to [fill in the blank]?

Do I belong to my beliefs? About who God is? About who I am? About who others are?

Am I able to walk away from these small belongings-and most of them do not seem small–if they prevent me from experiencing God, from experiencing Life in the here and now?

Jesus looks at me and loves me. He invites me to leave behind my small belongings. He invites me to come, to follow, to find out about this Life that is eternal. This Life that has been and is right now and will be.

[1] Mark 10:21 (NIV)

Just me?
Is that all you really wanted?
Not my doctrines, ideas, or words?
Not all of the amazing things I could or should be doing?
Just me?


You don’t need me to succeed?
To be stunning or fascinating?
Miraculous or right?
Just me?


Real, wide-awake life
is waiting for me to lay down the trappings,
to release all that my hands are so tightly grasping,
so I can slip though this narrow gate
that will only fit
just me.

© J.L. Sanborn, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Jessica is mom to three little-ish people and wife to a great guy. She used to do lawyer things. Now the future is wide open as she learns what it means to belong in her own feet. She writes about faith and becoming at

Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are Those who are Persecuted


Verse 10:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NRSV)


You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you deeper into God’s kingdom. (The Message)


Blessed are those who are dislocated for the cause of justice; their new home is the province of the universe. (Aramaic)


Who does Jesus commend? Jesus saved for last the ones who side with Heaven even when any fool can see it’s the losing side and all you get for your pain is pain. Looking into the faces of his listeners, he speaks to them directly for the first time. “Blessed are you,” He says. (Frederick Buechner)


Reflections on this Beatitude:
Which of the four versions do you most resonate with?
Have you ever been persecuted (or belittled or questioned or mocked or written off) for your commitment to faith or to God?


How did it change you?


What could you do to “side with Heaven” in your current life, even if it caused you some pain?

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