I recently bumped into two friends, a married couple, who have been working for another church in London doing amazing things, but they popped into our church to visit. I made a beeline for them and asked them how they were doing. They told me that God had been speaking to them about moving to a particular country and that they had found a job there and were due to move in a month! Just like that. Pack everything up, leave jobs and go. Only, it wasn’t just like that. They needed a visa and the embassy concerned wasn’t being terribly helpful. In fact, the reality of their situation, which may sound glamorous, was actually really very stressful and hard for them.
But God had spoken, so they were going…
Such obedience always impresses me. Could I do that?
Mark 6:6b-13 says this:
“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
If I ‘went’ I would at least take my cash card with me! Oh, and my iPhone. And my car, obviously. And my two cats… Hmmmm…
Now I’m not sure Jesus expects us to dump everything and go somewhere else to do crazy mission stuff – although if he does tell you to, please be obedient and do it (after seeking wise counsel from others!) but I do know that he tells each one of us to get involved in his ministry. And there is always a cost involved.
Serving God will often be amazingly rewarding but it will often cause us to give up things that we would actually really rather not do without.
So being a disciple means that our bank balance doesn’t belong to us – it’s God’s.
Being a disciple means that our diary will look different to other people’s.
Being a disciple will mean that the people we spend time with and how we ‘do’ friendship will look different.
Being a disciple will mean that our lifestyle will not follow everything our culture tells us is obviously the way to live life.
And we won’t always feel like it. Discipleship costs. If it doesn’t, we’re not doing it right.
Take a look at our passage again. Have you noticed what happens before that section and what happens after it?
Before it, Jesus has been to his home town and no-one wanted to know. They didn’t see the most incredible servant of God; someone filled with the Spirit who could lead them to eternal salvation… They just saw the man they thought they knew. You know, Joseph’s boy…
Then afterwards, John the Baptist, who has been in prison, gets executed because he wouldn’t be silent in the face of opposition. He was a man anointed to lead people to repentance and re-introduce them to their Father – and that’s not always popular – but he did it faithfully whatever the cost.
In the midst of that, Jesus is releasing his disciples to go and do the stuff that Jesus himself had been doing. That is, after all, what a disciple does.
But note that as they go, they go in teams, they go relying upon Jesus’ authority, God’s provision, and the results are not in their hands. They soon discovered that if they were accepted it was because the people were receptive to God – and lives were transformed. And if they were rejected it was because the people were rejecting Him too.
To be so bound up with what God is doing must be the most incredible place to be. Frankly, it scares me and I’m grateful that Jesus isn’t making that spectacular demand of me (at the moment). But let’s not make the mistake of thinking that he’s not calling us to get going at all. He is, and it will cost us – sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.
It may not look as dramatic as Mark 6 and the ‘results’ may not be as instant – but disciples imitate their rabbi, and so, with or without iPhones, cash cards and cars, get together your friends and fellow disciples and join Jesus in seeking the lost, the hurting and those tangled up in life’s mess. Let’s talk to them about Jesus and serve them so that they might find that there’s life in abundance when you respond to His call.