Throughout my life and experience I’ve observed that “fitting in” is a big deal for people. It’s a big deal for me, a big deal for those who say,”it’s no big deal,” and it’s probably a big deal for you. Where do I fit? With whom at I “at home?” Where am I free to be myself and yet feel loved and accepted?
Fitting in, it turns out, is pervasive in our lives. We are not rugged individuals; we are made to live among others, in relationship and in community. So whether it is on a sports teams, a class, a music group, a family, a job, or a hundred other dimensions of life we find ourselves deeply concerned and preoccupied with fitting in. Where we don’t feel like we are fitting in we can often feel discouraged, angry, hurt, or just plain lonely. Such a great need this fitting in, that many are willing to do all kinds of things against their own personal values and beliefs, just for a moment of fitting in.
I am currently reading through the book of 1 Peter in the New Testament. Peter starts his letter with an address, “to the exiles of the Disperson.” (One of those verses that we don’t find on needlework pillows). Who are these people that Peter is writing. Well, they were Jews in the first century who fled from their homeland in the light of Roman persecution. The are people scattered in lands outside of their home, their comfort zone, and their places of fitting in.
Isn’t wonderful to know that God cares, speaks, and has a word to those who feel like they don’t fit. Peter writes a whole letter of relevant stuff to this group; maybe there is a great deal we could gain from listening in to his letter. First off, Peter’s letter doesn’t just address “exiles,” but “exiles who have been chosen and destined by God and sanctified by his Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ” (vs. 2). So right up front, Peter tells us that those who don’t seem to be fitting in, well, they are chosen, destined, and sanctified (set apart if you will). These are not people who are picked last for the team, these are not insignificant ones; these are people who fit with God, his purposes, and his people. They only have to learn how to live that out in a world where they often feel like strangers. Maybe we need to hear that word and learn to live it out as well.