Thursday, August 14, 2014

A third question - the radical answer.

I really need to get back to that bombshell question of Jesus (Mark 3:33), left hanging in the air: Who are my mother and my brothers? As Jesus looked at those seated around him we guess the disciples were close.  Actually, Mark records he had only just called them (verses 13-19).  This turns out to be one of those questions that Jesus has to answer himself.  We would have given the obvious family ties answer and missed the point.  Who could have guessed what he says next?

His reply is devastatingly radical. Devastating because it alters mass relationships among the people of God in the deepest of ways. Listen to his answer: 'Here are my mother and my brothers.  Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother'

We should understand that Jesus loved his mother taking great trouble on the cross to care for her, and some of his family became devoted followers with key leadership roles in the early church. This answer does not slight his family but rather claims the reality of a new kind of family.  As he looks at his followers who unite around him, he applies the high language of family, of blood ties, of group-belonging to describe how closely God's believers are bonded together.  Jesus is the divinely common denominator of a new community that is created not by human will but by God's gift (John 1:12).

This ushers in a revolution of belonging. Other social political experiments have attempted this. Communism sought to inspire equality of brotherhood. But there has never been an initiative like this.  Such is the power of God's grace in the ministry of Jesus that he dares to name and begin a world movement that overrides age, gender, singleness, race and culture, likes and dislikes.  His love forges believers into brothers, sisters, mothers of his family whether they choose these others or not.

And that's the crunch point.  Once we take God's will for our lives seriously we are pitchforked into belonging within the most cross-cultural, inter-generational, variegated bunch of people you could ever imagine.  And this 'belonging' involves being as close as brothers and sisters. What?  I need to think what a difference that would make to my local church.

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