And looking at those who sat around him, Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”   – Mark 3:31-35

Jesus says that whoever does the will of God is his family. To religious leaders and hungry alike, this was nothing less than a stunning revelation of who is included in the story of God.

If we imagine the will of God to be something like: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” then we can imagine this to include all who act as Jesus would act even if they don’t call on the name of Jesus. Right? The radical vision of Jesus could include queer and black and white, addicted and criminal, unemployed and wealthy, even those who tick the “wrong” box at the polls. Anyone who shows a neighbor love.

Even today this is a radical notion. Still jarring. Still a little upsetting to imagine God including people whose theology offends us or politics are abhorrent. And yet, if they do the will of God, are they not also part of Jesus’ family?

As we strive to lean into the radical nature of the kingdom of God where mercy and grace rain down on everyone, we are faced with a public proclamation of another, more troubling kind. A version of Christianity that, well, isn’t. Christian nationalism holds as a central tenet the false assertion that we were intended to be a Christian nation, that America is favored by God above all other nations. White Christian nationalism goes one step further, claiming that the white are truly favored, that there is a class order based on skin color or nation of origin. This is a gospel of exceptionalism and even violence.

This summer we are offering another book study. We have chosen Jim Wallis’s “The False White Gospel.” The book explores White Christian Nationalism, how to respond to it, and how to have tough conversations. (See the next page for more information.)

How do we respond to people who adhere to a set of ideals that are so contrary to the Gospel of grace, love and peace? How do we love neighbors who seem to exalt hate and exclusion?

Jesus tells us that anyone who does the will of God is his sibling, his family. Jesus doesn’t even say we have to be Christian to be part of the kingdom. Just that we do the will of God. Which is to love our neighbor. And neighbor love means celebrating that everyone is included in this radical dream of God. Everyone. The meek will find mercy. The poor will find bread. The imprisoned will not be abandoned to their suffering. In truth, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so the gift of the empty tomb is for everyone! Death is subverted! Life and love rule the day!

Not just for some. But for everyone. Which is a hard thing to come to terms with no matter what political view you hold, no matter your skin color, no matter what “gospel” you claim.

Please join us as we learn, as we stretch the size of our hearts, and learn to courageously proclaim a gospel of love.

As one in the family of Jesus,

Pastor Chris