Do you ever pause and consider how vast God’s love is for us? How absolutely outrageous and wonderful and impossible it is in its scope?
I venture it’s not always often that you do if you’re anything like me.
Remembering Jesus’ Capacity
When my husband was a parish pastor (he’s now a chaplain in the Navy), he was very gifted in the art of the tangent, especially during Bible study. During one such “bunny trail,” as he called them, he brought up an example of the Lord’s capacity that I like to try and remember. Mark 9 details the account of the disciples sitting with Jesus in the house in Capernaum after having argued with one another about who was the greatest. (We’ll come back to that.) But next, John tells Jesus they encountered someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name who wasn’t a part of their cohort.
John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For the one who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38–40, emphasis added)
Did you catch that? John concerns himself with creating barriers for those who aren’t with Jesus and crew. Jesus flips this on its head and only establishes a distinction between Himself and those who reject Him.
What an illustration of how narrow our view is compared to Jesus’. Like John, I’m sure we are all guilty of imagining who does and does not (or should and should not) associate themselves with God, to say nothing of outright divisiveness and hostility to our fellow man. But Jesus reminds us—over and again throughout the Bible, even—that His kingdom is for all. Our capacity to love others is clouded and finite, but His is directly opposite.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious,” after all, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).
Big Enough for Everyone
Put another way, the net that Jesus casts is big enough for everyone—big enough to capsize a fishing vessel with the abundance of its catch. (Our nets, even as fishers of men, cannot compare—and often remain empty.)
In its own upside-down way, this is comforting. We can relax in the knowledge that nothing we do is possible, correct, or efficacious without Jesus at the helm working through us. Jesus will lend us His net; His love will spill over from us without containment. All we have to do is remove ourselves from assuming His role.
The truth is, every single human being—past, present, believer, nonbeliever—that there ever was or will be is an enemy of God by nature. That means you and me too.
We’re all in the same boat, as it were.
Relying on Jesus Alone
But catch this glorious piece of hope I recently heard from the pulpit:
God is never our enemy.
So love your neighbor with the capacity of Christ—the neighbors that are easy to judge because they struggle with sin. The ones who are of different means, backgrounds, and cultures than you. Those who are disabled. Those who are challenging. Those who are, in common estimation, considered somehow lesser or other.
Remember how the disciples were arguing about who among them was the greatest? I said we would come back to that. In answer to their discussion, Jesus said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
We must all rely on the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus alone provides. Without these, we have not even one shred of greatness—only the illusion of superiority our fallen nature thinks we have. Jesus pours out all His outrageous love without limitation on the entire sum of humanity. His salvation is for all. His salvation is for us. His love is not only big enough to cover the world—it is big enough to cover you: your sins and faults and shame.
So love your neighbor with the capacity of Christ.
How can we not?
Find more short Gospel-filled devotions for any occasion in Minute Messages.