September 30 I Thursday
“He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” —Mark 3:14
Why did Jesus call the disciples to Himself? The opening verse tells us the answer but do not read it too quickly, because there are two points we do not want to miss. He appointed them that they might be with Him, which is the first factor in discipleship, “to be with Me.” The second factor is so “He might send them out.” Coming in was the first invitation before going out, because being loved by Him comes before being able to love other people.
Our togetherness with God is similar to a marriage between a man and a woman. There are two kinds of togetherness in marriage: a side-by-side togetherness and a face-to-face togetherness. Side-by-side togetherness has to do with our work, job and responsibilities. Children and others may join us in our endeavours, as we journey side-by-side moving through life.
There is a face-to-face relationship, where nobody else is involved. This is private, just between the two people in marriage. But the danger we are likely to face when we get so busy with the side-by-side aspect of our relationship is that we start to neglect the face-to-face aspect of our relationship, where we love, affirm, weep, are vulnerable, are weak and make love together. This may be true of our Christian life when we become so busy with Jesus in the side-by-side aspects of work, volunteerism and ministries of various kinds that we lose our face-to-face intimacy.
A few years ago, when I was going through a difficult time of my own making, my wife asked me, “Is Jesus your Friend?” I gave it some thought and told my wife, “Jesus is my Business Partner first of all, not my Friend. I work with and for Him.” She responded, “I can see that; make Him your Friend.” That was a very helpful moment in my life to realize I needed to make Jesus my Friend.
We will find the Christian life will run dry when we get busy in being sent out and become very casual about being in intimacy with God. We need fellowship with Him in order to be fruitful. We need to find solitude with Him before engaging in service, renewal in our own souls before responsibility and worship before work. Two key invitations in the Bible from Jesus are, “Come to Me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Abide in Me” (John 15:4, NKJV). If we come to Him, He will send us out and we will go with all the resources we have obtained by being in intimacy, love and relationship with Him. As we embark on a side-by-side togetherness with Jesus, may we not forget about our face-to-face relationship as well.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You that You have called me to come to You and abide in You. I ask that my friendship with You never falters. In Your name, amen!