MONDAY MEDITATION: Celebrating the “Whoevers” (November 9)

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.” – Mark 3:35

We sometimes forget how inclusive Jesus was as he walked the earth. When told that his family had come to see him, he expanded the definition of family. “Whoever does God’s will.”

I grew up in a culture that restricted who was in God’s family. You had to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and be “born again.” You had to believe the fundamentals of faith. Didn’t matter if you did good things and felt compassionate or not: If you didn’t believe Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, then you’d be cast into hell (by his loving Father).

Oh, please.

Jesus doesn’t share the neuroses lurking behind such religion.

Rather, he makes inclusion in his family something active, not mental. DO God’s will.

Be moved by compassion, like God.

Advocate for justice, like God.

Give liberally to help others, like God.

Forgive your enemies, like God.

Show humility, like God.

Be willing to sacrifice, like God.

Be a peacemaker, like God.

Who are such people you know who act like this? What is their professed religion (or lack thereof)?

I love the kinship I feel with Catholic priests, Muslim imams, and Jewish rabbi’s, as we’ve shared meetings and service projects together. I love the kinship I feel when I mingle with and serve beside people who have a lot of difficulty with religion but no difficulty at all in being kind and just to others.

Jesus always meant his family to include such whoevers. They revel in God’s grace too, although they may use different language or no language to describe it.

Our job as Christians is never to contract a circle that Jesus tells us to widen.

As we get to know more “outsiders” who do God’s will, the better we will get to know Jesus.

8 thoughts on “MONDAY MEDITATION: Celebrating the “Whoevers” (November 9)”

  1. “I grew up in a culture that restricted who was in God’s family. You had to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and be “born again.” You had to believe the fundamentals of faith. Didn’t matter if you did good things and felt compassionate or not: If you didn’t believe Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, then you’d be cast into hell (by his loving Father).”

    What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36)

    Reply
    • Good question, and it allows me to get on my soapbox!
      I think believing in Jesus means following him. We have to make an effort to make mercy, compassion, and a love for justice primary in our lives; that’s why Matthew’s Gospel starts Jesus’ public ministry with the Sermon on the Mount, a description of the radical lifestyle of the follower of Jesus. This goes with the CEB’s definition of “repent”: “Change your hearts and lives” (i.e., Acts 2:38), meaning change the inner and, consequently, outer life. Jesus commended people who lived right but couldn’t necessarily express their theology clearly, as in the parable of the sheep and goats, Matt. 25. Thinking things in doctrine are true is important; doctrine can help us know Christ, experience the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, and engage us in a life-changing journey with fellow believers. But I believe someone living out the gospel connects them to Christ as well; Jesus uses all ways to help people experience life the way God intended. That’s why I can welcome a devout Muslim, Jew, or atheist as a brother or sister in faith: Christ can touch us regardless of our belief system or lack thereof. If they are focused on making life better for the have-nots and the oppressed as Jesus was, then there’s a place for them in Jesus’ kingdom. I’m concerned that when faith is understood as a mental thing that doesn’t result in a transformed life, it becomes gnostic instead of the way of Christ.

      Reply
    • I remember as a young Christian posing this question. Now, as an “old” Christian, I still ask it! Guess that’s the mark of a good question.
      Lots of thoughts about this.
      1–View of “ransom,” to appease God’s sense of justice. Personally, I don’t quite understand this one, because it makes God out to be pretty heartless, quite contrary to how Jesus revealed him.
      2–View that God’s nature was affected by experiencing the grief of a parent for a child, and now God relates to us more powerfully/intimately. Theologian Jurgen Moltmann wrote about this in The Crucified God.
      3–View that Jesus defeated the forces of evil/Satan/Rome by being consumed by them but then God resurrected the Son, thus breaking their power. “Fishhook” theory of salvation.
      4–View that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the example we are to follow, in his name. “Take up your cross and follow me.”
      5–View that he made an offering to God, for the sake of the people, that the people couldn’t make for themselves. This was the final offering that ushers a new age of reconciliation through the Holy Spirit.
      I guess different people resonate with different ones. #2 and #5 speak most to me.
      What do you think?

      Reply
  2. I’d say all 5 have validity. The point is, Jesus’ crucifixion is necessary to understand why John 3:16 and John 14:6 make any sense, and why John Wesley considered three truths essential to the Christian faith: Original Sin, the Atonement, and salvation by faith.

    Reply

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