Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wanting to Belong

I have always wondered about the ratings which determine the viability of television shows. Who are these people that named what show they were watching at any given moment? No one has ever called me to find out what I was watching. Then last week we received a postcard from Nielsen TV’s Media Research group inviting us to become a part of the Nielsen Family. They followed up a few days later with a phone call, instructing us how to fill in their booklet for one week’s worth of TV viewing. As the call came to an end, the lady on the other end of the phone told me enthusiastically: “You are going to have fun! Welcome to the Nielsen Family!”

Being included in a group can be a strong motivation, and Nielsen knows it. We used to call it the “bandwagon” technique of advertising in the fifth grade. Don’t be left out! Join everyone else who is doing it! As I finished my call with the Nielsen lady, knowing I was now part of this group which in part determines the success or fall of any given TV series, I have to admit, it did leave a bit of a warm feeling in my heart.

We all have a basic need for significance. We all want to belong. I thought about how people who become believers in Christ benefit in this way-- they suddenly find themselves a part of the church. They are warmly welcomed into the fold and are enthusiastically told of the privileges that come to one whose heart belongs to Him. Sunday mornings become something to look forward to as we meet with those who believe as we do. There is something very powerful about the fellowship aspect of being a Christian.

Yet, while the Nielsen Family may offer a bit of significance, we have been given so much more in Christ. Mr. Nielsen himself did not call me to invite me to join the family. In fact, he knows nothing about me. Not even my name. I was a randomly selected participant. However, the head of the Family of Christ searched me out specifically. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him” (John 6:44). The Father drew us, and before doing so knew more about us than we did ourselves. “The very hairs on your head are numbered,” Jesus told His disciples. The psalmist David remarked, “You perceive my thoughts from afar… Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord” (Psalm 139:2, 4).

Mr. Nielsen wanted me to join the family because of what I brought to the table. I would benefit his organization by my small contribution. God draws us into His family not for what we bring, but because He is love. His grace and mercy are an expression of that attribute. We are delusional if we think we deserve anything but condemnation.

Nielsen made no sacrifice in order that I might be declared worthy to be a part of the group. They did not offer compensation for our efforts. They figure our being part of the Nielsen Family is compensation enough, I guess. God, on the other hand, gave everything that mattered most to Him in order to provide the means with which to join His family. He sacrificed what was most dear to His heart-- His only Son-- for us.

So while being a part of the Nielsen Family is an interesting idea, it is no match for the bigger family I have been made a part of thanks to the grace and mercy of God.

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:4-6

1 comment:

gallerhea said...

Thank you for your beautiful insights re: being invited to be in the family of God, and how it FAR SURPASSES any Nielsen Ratings Family invite! :)

I have been in the church since infancy, and have often struggled with feeling unworthy, not having "enough to bring to the table."

Thank you for the reminder that Christ chose us, not for what we could give him, but because of his supreme love for us. Anything we "bring to the table" is merely in gratitude for the ultimate gifts we have been given--Salvation, Mercy, Grace, Amazing Love, and a beautiful family of believers to fellowship with!


p.s. I found your blog, from the comment you left on Micca Campbell's blog. Thank you for the encouragement.