Let me tell you a story about a kid named Michael. Michael grew up doing a lot of things. He played Little League baseball every year, and even basketball once or twice though he wasn’t very good. Then, when he got into middle and high school, he played football along with baseball. He also performed in school musicals and dramas. He was a member of almost every club available at the school, though in some cases he couldn’t have told you what the purpose of the club was. He pretty much tried to do it all.
He followed a similar pattern in college and then after college, participating in most anything that was readily available to him. Michael was a “yes man.” He, even to this day, suffers from terrible anxiety when he has to decline an opportunity that’s put before him, finding it always preferable to say “yes” rather than “no.” He consistently finds his schedule packed out, and frequently wonders why he said “yes” to something when it actually comes time to doing it.
That’s my story (or at least the high points), and I’d venture to say that I’m not alone. Here’s the most curious part about it for me: I didn’t necessarily enjoy all the things I participated in. Athletics are a great example that comes to mind. I wasn’t particularly good at either football or baseball. Neither was I particularly competitive. In fact, I remember most vividly the great anxiety I felt every single game day, and the great relief I felt as each season drew to a close. So here, then, is the question:
Why did I do it? Why would a marginally talented kid continue to participate in so many things that he didn’t enjoy? It wasn’t because I felt pressure from my parents; I most certainly did not. It wasn’t because I had aspirations of getting a college scholarship; I didn’t delude myself into thinking I was better than I was. I didn’t have an insatiable desire for victory, though I certainly enjoyed winning more than losing. So why?
I think it’s the same reason I joined all the clubs, went to all the events, and made sure never to miss a social gathering. It’s the same reason I still have the tendency to over commit myself today:
It’s because I’m afraid of being left out. I want to be included. On the inside. One of the gang. And today, I believe, Jesus has something to say about that.
To the kid who is afraid of being the left out, the gospel says, “You’re in.” And you’re never going to be left out.
We are, as Paul said, sealed into the family of God with the promise of the Holy Spirit:
“When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The gospel tells us that we aren’t going to be left out. The fear of “missing something” is abated with the knowledge that God has given us everything. And now, knowing that we are once and for all on the inside – inside the family; inside the promises; inside the dearly loved prized possession of God Himself – frees us from that nagging sensations that we might be left out.
So to all those adults with the kid still inside who stood either stood at the edge of the crowd or constantly pushed their way into it, the gospel says, “You’re in. And you belong.”