June 7, 2021

Wonder and Opportunity

If you attend a church that follows the lectionary, you will know that one of the readings on Sunday was out of 2 Corinthians. The passage conveys to us that there are forces at work around us beyond the physical world. I doubt you needed a Bible verse to tell you this. One has only to look at the wonder in a child’s eyes, stand in awe of a beautiful landscape or experience the collective power of people coming together from across various backgrounds to know that there is something spiritual about our existence. 

Jesus points to this in the Gospel reading from Sunday. When beckoned by his family and friends, Jesus turns to those listening to him speak of God’s dream for the world and says, “these are my people.” He does not do so to deny his love for his actual friends and family. Rather, he is expanding the circle. Jesus is expanding the idea of who we love, who we are connected to beyond blood and geography. He is saying that whoever participates in God’s dream for the world are our family—are our friends.

It is human nature to distinguish ourselves from others. We are inclined to associate with those that are like us, agree with us; to associate with those we feel safe with. It offers certainty, security. It is absent of wonder and curiosity. This kind of certainty is exactly what the people of Israel hoped for in asking for a king in second Samuel. They wanted a leader that would define them. And yet, the enmity for those different than us—our propensity to separate ourselves—does not come from a godly place. As Genesis 3 demonstrates, the human instinct to separate and create divisions by blood and geography are part of our broken nature, not God’s hope for us. 

What Jesus calls us to risky. It is not safe. He calls us to love those that others would call us to fear. He calls us to hope for a different future, not matter what history may tell us about divisions. He asks us to continue expanding the circle, rather than excluding others. This is risky because it requires us to be brave and trust that God will meet us in the face of others. But that is why each of us who call ourselves Christian can do so; at some point in the past, someone invited in you or a family member—years ago, or generations ago. Someone was brave enough to welcome another into the circle.

Some will frame the gospel around who it excludes. This is misguided. Our inclination to divide by blood and geography, those we are to fear and despise is not the point of the gospel. The gospel taps into something deeper than blood, something spiritual. At its root it is a message of an ever-expanding invitation to work with God for the redemption of creation. We can remain divided by blood and geography or bound together by wonder and opportunity.

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