Monday, December 01, 2014

Grace devotion: No Limits - Mark 3:35

Mark 3:35       “Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

            As church people, we are meant to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Our identity is defined through Him and, by our faithful works in the world for Him, people should be able to see that we are united. The trouble is this: the world sees a fragmented church which is constantly in turmoil and being broken by inner conflicts. Instead of being the vehicle of Christ’s peace, healing, and grace, His Church has become a symbol of religious strife, constant battling, and sadly, self-righteousness.

This is a complete shame because the world needs Christ more than ever. His words and ways, His life and love could repair a lot of the damage and destruction that is experienced all over this planet. Poverty and ignorance, illness and despair could be effectively diminished if Christ’s people could totally unite and fight the real foes of humanity. Tragically, Church people have got into the habit of creating doctrinal divisions and are rent asunder by definitions of what is sacred. I include myself in this tragedy because I have often compounded some of these issues, conflicts, and separations.

            I often hear preachers preaching messages about getting back to the basics, but what they really urge is a conforming to past doctrinal truths and rigid religious rules. I understand that structure is important, however I am more inclined to think that you can’t theologically systematize and narrowly limit God’s grace, goodness, and love.  If God’s love is everlasting and His grace is infinite, then how can there be boundaries? If there is a limit to God’s love, then doesn't that also mean that God cannot love the unlovable, which may further mean that He is limited, finite, and impeded by a boundary that He cannot cross?

            Boundaries remind us that we are finite, mortal, frail, limited, and human. Jesus invites us to cross the limitations that are set upon us by aligning and uniting our lives to Him. He becomes our way of rising above our boundaries in order to be restored, reconnected, and reunited to the boundless grace and love that belongs to God. Through Christ, the unlovable are loved, the unreachable are reached, and the sinful saved. And when we faithfully do His work in the world beyond church world, we are further blessed to become not just brothers and sisters in Christ, but also brothers and sisters of Christ. In other words, we are adopted by Him into the everlasting heart, life, and love of God.

Questions for personal reflection
Where can I work for Christ and do God’s will today? How can I encourage others in church and my community to do the same?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, we seek to truly serve You and yearn to please You. Today, and throughout this week, You will give us opportunities to share Your love and grace with other people. Help us to do all that we can to do God’s will among our families and friends, our neighbors and community. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or comment on today’s message, then please send him an email to

Today’s drawing is John’s latest Nativity picture called “Outsiders.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Outsiders.

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