Mark 3:31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
“How do I know God’s will for my life?”
I’ve been posed with this question more than once before. (I guess people know I love theology and am a pastor so they think I have my finger on God’s pulse so they come and ask me.) Many want to know what they should do after college, or what car to buy, or where to serve at church. “I just want to do God’s will.” This is a fine request. In fact, so do I–I want to do God’s will, too. But…I’m not always sure what it is.
Then it hit me when I was reading this passage. Jesus is talking to a crowd when his mom shows up. You know, Mom…the one who spent hours upon hours in labor with you, risking her very life to push you out of her body–that Mom. Some poor soul gets to bear the news to Jesus, to which he expected more-or-less from Jesus, “Hey everyone, my family’s outside. Hold on. I’ll be right back.” But, no, Jesus turns to those around him–”These guys are my family. Anyone who does God’s will is my family.” Doing God’s will makes you part of Jesus’ family–that’s hefty. So, we’d like to know what that means, right?
In the Gospels, Jesus brings in God’s kingdom and reshapes what it means to be part of Israel, the people of God, around himself. He forgives people by his own authority instead of having them go to the Temple for that. He spends time at the Sermon on the Mount to lay out what the people of God look like–peaceable, humble, pure in heart, persecuted for righteousness sake. He claims he is the fulfillment of the Torah. He claims to be the Temple, then destroys it through his crucifixion. Those who do these things are part of “true Israel,” God’s covenant people, Jesus’ family. God’s kingdom is coming in Jesus–repent and believe the good news.
If in Mark 3 doing God’s will makes one a member of Jesus’ family, it would appear that “to follow God’s will” is to be part of “true Israel” (a common desire in first century Judaism). What does it mean to be true Israel? For Jesus, it means being holy, set apart living out the values of God’s kingdom. love God, love your neighbor, be a peacemaker, be humble, pure in heart. Thus, the will of God is not an individualistic outlook toward the rest of life (i.e., what’s God’s will for my life–take the job at the bank or go to the mission field?). The emphasis appears to be on holiness, of living in light of Jesus as God’s-kingdom-bringer, and, when Jesus is bringing in the kingdom, it looks like the Sermon on the Mount, looks like putting others before yourself, giving up your life, carrying your cross.
So, what’s God’s will for your life? It’s introspective, not extrospective. How can I bring in the kingdom of God? Seek holiness, live out kingdom values–”It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Ths. 4:3); “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (5:18); “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (1 Pt. 2:15). Seems pretty obvious to me then.
How does this change your outlook on what’s God’s will for your life?