These weeks I’ve been sitting with the crowd at Jesus’ feet when his mother and brothers come to find him, thinking he is crazy (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35). I’ve been surprised by my resentment at their intrusion, and my thought, “Now you’re going to leave and go back to your mother and brothers where you belong, and what will happen to me?”
But I hear Jesus ask, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” I see him turn and look right at me as he continues, motioning with his hand to me and those around me, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Sitting there in the circle at Jesus’ feet, I find myself not abandoned after all. More, I find myself brought right in, prioritized, publicly named by Jesus as one of his closest relations.
I’ve known, of course, that I’m part of Jesus’ family. But it’s different to imagine myself in the gospel story and see Jesus look right at me as he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers.”
I don’t know about you, but this belonging, this being loved, is something I need to feel and hear and see again and again. My own love for God can shrink, shivering, behind my fears, and I need to experience all over again God loving me first for the millionth time.
As James Bryan Smith says in his new book,
“One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:19: ‘We love because he first loved us.’ God loved us first, by sending his Son for us (I John 4:10). But, as Kierkegaard pointed out, God does not just love us first one time. God loves us first every single moment of every single day. “When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul to You. . . when we withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn our soul toward You, You are the first and thus forever. And yet we always speak ungratefully as if you have loved us first only once.” God is always present, loving us first each and every moment. I, for one, need to hear it again and again.” (The Good and Beautiful You, p. 79)
Linger here with me, will you? Let’s soak in the marvel of this truth, that day after day we are wakened by the One who, because of his great love for us, holds us in being and surrounds us with his tender care, always the first to love.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jer 31:3).
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).
P.S. If you struggle to be aware of and open to God’s love in the busyness of life, you might find this post helpful. In it I share what James Bryan Smith believes is the most important practice for us today as we seek to open to the love with which God is always loving us first.