Three of my siblings were born in a hospital. My sister Neva and I were born at home, a humble home in the country 12 miles from the small town of Wetumpka, Alabama. Eventually I would be the oldest of the 45 grandchildren of my mother’s parents, Neva and Seth Johnson, my mother being their oldest child.

I grew up knowing that I belonged to the Johnson family. Even more important to me was the awareness that I belonged to Caroline and Walter Albritton. I took pride in hearing someone say I was “Mr. Walter’s boy,” though I had no idea then how important it is for a child to have a sense of belonging to a family.

The one radio in our home was our source of entertainment. I remember our family gathering around the radio listening intently as Joe Lewis knocked out another of his opponents. It was the radio that provided me with my first hero, the Lone Ranger, and the pride I felt in joining by mail the Lone Ranger Safety Club. That certificate of membership hung on my bedroom wall for many years. I may have been a country boy living so far out in the woods they had to pipe in sunshine, but I belonged to my hero’s Safety Club!

Starting to elementary school in 1938 I belonged to Mrs. Oakley Melton’s class. In the years that followed I would belong to the Glee Club, the Thespians and the athletic teams known as the Wetumpka Indians. It meant so much to me to suit up and run out on the football field or the basketball court with teams to which I belonged.

In my teen years, I began to learn what it means to belong to God, and gradually that became the most significant relationship of my life. The Bible is all about belonging to Jesus. For example, Paul writes in Romans 8:1, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLB). Paul affirmed this again in 14:8 when he said, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, then, whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.”

When Peter tried to stop Jesus from washing his feet, Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Peter wisely responded, “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:8). That’s what you and I would have said.

To belong to Jesus is the key to victorious living. The Bible teaches it. Some of our songs of faith confirm it. I love Norman Clayton’s song, “Now I Belong to Jesus.” If you get depressed sometime, the words of this song will cure you: “Jesus, my Lord will love me forever, from Him no power of evil can sever, He gave His life to ransom my soul; Now I belong to Him. Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity. Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me, freed me from sin that long had enslaved me, Now I belong to Him.”

Like icing on the cake is the further good news that when we belong to Jesus, we belong to each other in the fellowship of believers. Paul explains it this way in Romans 12:5, “So we, many as we are, are one body in the Messiah, and individually we belong to one another.” Unrivaled is the thrill of belonging to the greatest team on earth — the Servants of Jesus!

A long time ago the Lone Ranger gave this young boy the joy of belonging. Then came Jesus, who forgave my sins and gave me the supreme relationship — the joy of knowing I belong to Jesus “not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.” Beloved, belonging matters!