It really is a good thing that the decision as to who can be a disciple and who cannot is not up to me. I think I would make decisions based upon my assumptions and prejudices. If it were up to me there would be no Bolton Wonderers supporters for a start. Jesus sees things in a very different way than I do.
We can choose our friends, but we cannot choose our family.
I thank God that I was not able to choose my family! There are some of them who I would never have spent the time to get to know, because they are very different to me. I am sure that they would say the same about me too. The simple matter that they are family, however, means that I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with them and get to know them. I love them. They are a strange bunch, some more than others (you know who you are!) but they are pretty amazing people. I am far, far richer as a result of knowing them.
The community of disciples, those who call Jesus master and follow Him, is not just like a family. It is a family.
He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’ (Matt 12:48-50)
Jesus did not call people to follow him because they were similar to him or one another. He called them because they all had the same bloodline. The disciples of Jesus are unified…
- By sin – All people, prior to knowing Jesus, are helpless sufferers from sin (Romans 3:23).
- By call – All people are called by Jesus to follow (Rev 3:20). No one is refused, but all people have the free will to refuse.
- By grace – All of those who accept the invitation to follow are saved as a gift. Not because they deserve it, but because Jesus loves us (Eph. 2:8-9).
- By adoption – All who follow Jesus are adopted into the family of God. They are sons and daughters, children of the same Father (1 John 3:1).
Every disciple of Jesus is part of the family of God. It is made up of some weird and wonderful people (I am the weirdest and my wife is probably the most wonderful), but each and every one of them is a mother, brother, father, daughter, brother and sister. Both the New Testament and our daily experience tell us that we are exactly like a family. With the same disagreements and dramas, loves and likes. But united by belonging and blood.
We cannot choose our family… we can only choose to love them as the Father loves us.