The Need to Belong

In a collection of essays called Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger emphasizes the importance of belonging to a community or group. Today’s modern world has affluence and comforts of all kinds, but we’ve become too individualistic for our own good.

Junger begins by describing the appeal of Indian tribes for some early colonists. Whites were sometimes captured or voluntarily lived among Indians. They often didn’t want to leave because they felt both belonging and freedom they didn’t have in normal civilization.

Our society can be cold and alienating. Our wealth and conveniences don’t bring solace. We have growing rates of depression and suicide.

We need to belong to something. We need to be a part of a cause bigger than ourselves. None of us is meant to be the proverbial lone wolf.

As strange as it sounds, people are often happier during times of war, such as during the Blitz in England during World War II and the war torn years in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990’s. Antisocial behavior decreases during war.

With that in mind, could it be that we in the U.S. are told we’re in a perpetual state of war because it’s believed we as a people will pull together? If so, it means war serves the elites in power because it makes people easier to control.

Thus, war is good for more than defense contractors.

But I digress.

Those in the military experience a unique kind of tribal bonding. Soldiers often miss war because of the close knit community they had within their unit. They may come to see themselves as defending their unit, more so than their country.

In the face of adversity, self interest is subsumed by group interest. That’s because there’s less chance of survival outside of a group or community.

Those of us who profess to know Christ as savior and Lord need to be plugged into a local church. That’s not only Biblical, but it’s true because of the aforementioned reasons for needing to belong and be part of a bigger cause.

When we’re part of a Bible believing, local body of Christ, we’re part of something special and sacred. No secular club or organization can offer the unique bond believers in Christ share.

I’ve had a change of heart about this in recent years.

It’s not enough to acknowledge oneself as having a bond with every other believer as part of the family of God. That’s important, but we need to make sacrifices for others and allow them to invest themselves in us.

Notice why Hebrews 10:24-25 says believers must not forsake assembling themselves together.

24. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We need to grasp what it means to pursue the cause of Christ and all that it implies. It’s the only way possible to survive in an insane world.