Who Is Jesus’ Family?

In my own time in the Scriptures I am heading back into the life of Jesus, this time through Mark’s eyes. I always enjoy getting back to one of the Gospels and getting another chance to see more of the life, nature and character of Jesus. I am amazed not only by his teachings and miracles, but also by his person and the way he treated people. The other day, I ran across this definition of his family:

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35

Religion teaches us that we belong to the family by making a confession of faith, saying a sinner’s prayer or observing the right obligations. Jesus says that membership in the family is a reality for those that do God’s will. Now that makes sense! It also explains why attempts at body life with some people can be so difficult.

You can’t experience real fellowship in this family with those who only claim to be followers of Christ, who are not actually following him. They might think they are, but in fact they are only doing what they do to satisfy their guilt or fulfill their spiritual aspirations. Trying to walk in fellowship with people like that is just impossible. It can also be exhausting. I don’t know about you but I find the most exhausting people to be around are those who are pushing some agenda—especially if they think it is for God.

Ultimately real body life isn’t rocket science. It’s the simplest thing in the world. When people come near each other who are looking to live by what Father wants, not what they want, fellowship is immediate, thrilling and life-changing. It’s not some thing we have to work at, but to enjoy. I can get off of airplanes and meet strangers at airports and find myself within a few moments enjoying the reality of Father’s family. That tells me I’ve found people who are seeking to do what God wants.

Yes, I know a religious mindset could pervert this into thinking we have to judge whether or not others are doing God’s will. How would we do that? It is not our place to judge others, but to love whomever God allows to cross our paths. With some that will lead to incredible fellowship. With others it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I don’t think I’m bright enough to account for the difference, but I do feel free to stop ‘working at’ fellowship. When it’s there, it’s there. When it’s not, no amount of work will change that reality.

And please don’t turn ‘doing God’s will’ into some perfectionist standard that seeks to earn our place in his life. It’s not our performance here that counts, but the desire of our hearts and our willingness to follow. Look at Jesus’ own disciples. They misunderstood a lot, argued with him, and even exhibited some fleshy motives at times. But they were learning to live in the Father’s desires. It doesn’t matter if you’re just at the starting line of that process, or far down the road. If you have a heart for Father’s will and look to follow him each day as best you see him, that is what Jesus is talking about. Those people experience the reality and joy of his family!

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