The pursuit of what the world perceives as the “perfect life” leaves us feeling depleted, disappointed, dissatisfied, and disconnected. If we would be open and honest with those around us, we would discover we are not the only ones tired of being lonely and left out at work, home, church, and online. God created each and every one of us with a hunger for true community, deeper connection with him, and friendships that are greater than “likes” on social media.
As she was touring the nation, speaker and comedian Amberly Neese found this sense of loneliness and disconnect to be present for women across the board—single or married, rich or poor, with or without children. That is the reason she set out to write The Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to Thrive. In this four-week study, Neese provides biblical and practical help for cultivating meaningful relationships that glorify God through an examination of the many “one another” scriptures throughout the New Testament. She groups more than fifty of them into themes in order to lead readers on an exploration of how to love, serve, build up, strengthen and forgive one another.
The Belonging Project is the exploration of the New Testament as it pertains to biblical community. God has designed us to live in mutually beneficial relationships and has given us the blueprints to do so in His Word. This four-week study is designed to encourage, empower, and equip participants to thrive in the community to which God has called us.
I started writing The Belonging Project because as I toured the nation speaking and doing comedy, I just kept hearing women say that they were lonely. Single or married, rich or poor, with a zip code of kids or not, women are feeling disconnected and depleted. Technology has provided us a million opportunities to “see” into the lives of others, but it seems we are actually IN one another’s lives so much less.
To address some of those issues, I explored the more than fifty uses of the term “one another” in the New Testament. Phrases such as “love one another,” “pray for one another,” and “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” are incredible puzzle pieces in the full picture of what biblical community is designed to look like.
The phrase “one another” is derived from the Greek word allelon, which means “one another . . . each other; mutual,” or “reciprocally.” Appearing more than one hundred times in the New Testament, this concept forms the basis of all true Christian community and has direct impact on our witness to the world. As we read in John 13:35 (NIV), “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
In the Belonging Project, we examine some of these “one anothers,” grouping them into four themes:
1. Find One Another
2. Fellowship with One Another
3. Forgive One Another
4. Fortify One Another
In each week of the study, we focus on one particular theme and explore relevant “one another” scriptures and related passages to help give us clarity on how we might live a life in a community that is both fulfilling and fun. Together, we will dive into how to handle life when we feel dejected, disconnected, and dissatisfied so that we can find our tribe and learn to thrive.
I used to believe that hospitality was limited to opening one’s home to others, but I have come to realize that, indeed, this is only a fraction of hospitality. Hospitality can be defined as serving others with love and without complaint, taking on the expense and tasks with joy.
Ask God to show you how you can add to your community of friends, even at this time of quarantine. Pray that God would prompt you to think of others who might be hungry for connection and would benefit from such a study. Call at least one person in your church and or neighborhood and ask how you can pray for him/her. Pray with him/her on the phone and ask if they would like to be part of The Belonging Project with you. Make a list of people who might be good additions to your community of friends and to the study. Include people from your church, workplace, and neighborhood or area. Pray for each of them—not only that they might become your friend but also that God would bless their study of his Word.
For more information, visit her website www.amberlyneese.com. She is also active on Facebook (@Amberly Neese – Comedian/Speaker), Twitter (@amberlyneese), and Instagram (@amberlyneese).