They had been with Jesus

Why does Jesus call us?

Perhaps we’ve never really pondered that question before.  We might initially think of reasons such as he needs us to be witnesses, to serve him, to worship him, to pray to him on behalf of others.  And all these would be valid activities and not a waste of our time.  And some of us have particular callings to these activities.  But they’re not the primary reason why Jesus called us.

In Mark’s gospel we are told that Jesus called twelve of his disciples “to be with Him” (Mark 3:14).  Granted, it goes quickly on to say that he also wanted them to preach, and to cast out demons – in other words, the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.  But the key part is that he wanted them to be with him.  Relationship, not function.

Jesus has angels to serve and worship him.  The Holy Spirit intercedes with the Father.  Jesus can reveal himself to people directly* without needing humans to help.  He doesn’t need us to work for him; he wants us to hang out with him.  Jesus is a social being.  He wants to walk, talk, be listened to and be involved.  But many of us relate to him in exactly the opposite way.  We don’t want to be with him; we’re much more comfortable doing things for him.  Or if we do, we’re usually too busy to make it happen.  A bit like Martha & Mary.  Which, paradoxically, makes it much harder for us to do the busy stuff well, because we haven’t been with him in the first place.

In the book of Acts, Peter and John get hauled in front of the religious authorities, who are unhappy that someone has been healed by them.  It’s obvious to everyone that they haven’t studied the law to an exceptional degree, and they’re not well-educated.  But as the Council members listened to what Peter has to say “they recognised they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  That is their prime qualification for ministry, not their background, education, abilities or resources.  It was the fact that they had spent time with him, understood his teaching, picked up his expressions, learned his demeanour, understood his values, received his approbation and had their lives utterly transformed by being with him.  Why do we think we need anything less if we want to see the kingdom spread in anything like the way the first generation church did?

Why don’t we all, even now, just stop what we’re doing and go and hang out with Jesus?



*links to another relevant blog on Tim’s website.


Try It Out

My fleshly-me often wishes I could have a wife, try her out for a while, then leave her if I don’t want to carry on. If this is not allowed for wives, why is it allowed for mission?

Where is the precedent for trying-out God’s service before committing oneself? Many young people who come to Africa seem to have that in mind. They come saying “I am asking if God is calling me here”. Some say “I will definitely come back”, but they do not. What exactly is going on? Couldn’t God speak to them before they came? Does God only speak to people once they have arrived in Africa? Do young people only want to come if they think they will enjoy it – is mission about ‘enjoying’? Are they testing the people being reached – “if you are loving and friendly enough to me, then I will come”? Are they saying to God “make me happy, then I’ll serve you”? Or are they testing themselves – “can I do it” – is mission dependent on our ability?Read more

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Can a “nation” practice Christianity? (Part 2)

This is part of a 2-part series by Interserve’s Steve Bell. See Wednesday’s post for Part 1.

It’s hard to understand Europe without a grasp of Christianity’s role in shaping it. The old sacred/secular divide is disappearing as religion (not least Islamic) crashes into ‘public space’. But can Christians help a bewildered secular society to find its bearings?   

Last time I pointed out that it’s ‘individuals’ (rather than ‘nation-states’) who follow Christ. Nations are impacted as national leaders who are imbued with the values of Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage implement it in the public good. Examples of this include Margaret Thatcher, Teresa May and Angela Merkel – all raised as the daughters of pastors.

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Can a “nation” practise Christianity? (Part 1)

This week we have a fantastic 2-part series from Interserve’s Steve Bell. Come back for part 2 on Friday!

Hitler’s Germany almost destroyed Europe by “pathological nationalism”. It now threatens it by “pathological altruism” as Angela Merkel makes history by inviting the world into Germany – a move that may yet trigger the demise of the EU.

Has it ever occurred to you that the instinct to defend the defenceless (although not unique to Christian teaching) originates in Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ (i.e. the biblical worldview embedded in our society, which insists individuals have both rights and responsibilities – see Mat.22:34-40). But how can ‘the heritage’ impact a secular Europe today?Read more


The Two Pastors Met Again for Coffee a Couple of Months Later

A follow up to the blog posted on 25th August 2016 entitled ‘Two Pastors met for coffee’


Mike: It was good that Andrea, the Pastor of the Church of the High Priest Jesus Christ, was able to come to our Evangelical Pastors’ Prayer Group last week.

Dave: Yes, I found the way she prayed very moving.

Mike: And Dave and Pete seemed happy to fellowship with her too. I didn’t know that Dave was so fluent in French. They really seemed to establish an entente cordiale. Also I hadn’t realised how much Christians have suffered in the CAR.

Dave: Put in that context it was easy to understand why the knowledge that Jesus as High Priest is ever interceding for us has come to mean so much to the church. Andrea’s explanation of that sent me back to Hebrews again and I realised that I haven’t really appreciated Christ’s heavenly work for us.Read more


I Will Tend

Let me begin with a confession, I am not very good at cross-examining the theology of the hymns I happen to be singing. Tom Wright’s wonderful book, Surprised by Hope, did leave me wondering where I had missed spotting Buddhist eschatology, Gnosticism and Platonism in some of my favourite and not so favourite hymns,  but like many others I can be sucker for a good tune disguising some ropy theology. However, this Sunday I was caught off guard singing the hymn, I the Lord of Sea and Sky. It is a great hymn based loosely on Isaiah 6. The first half of verse three goes like this:

I the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame,

I will set a feast for them.

My hand will save.

At least it goes like that if you take the words from Complete Mission Praise. However, in the equally incomplete, Complete Celebration Hymnal there is a minor change, just the change of a letter in fact. Here the “Lord of wind and flame” will send the poor and lame. In the changing of a single letter the poor and lame cease to be those ministered to, to whom we are sent (chorus: Here I am Lord……I will go Lord…) and become the agents of mission. One letter turns the theology on its head and raises some helpful questions.

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Giving: good. Fundraising: bad?

Zoe Bunter from The Leprosy Mission was one of our speakers at our Integral Mission Forum on the 13th September 2016, in which fundraising from a Christian perspective was considered. Here are some of her further thoughts on the matter.

As followers of Christ we are called to help people in need. Jesus demonstrated this throughout his ministry, and the parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how practical Jesus makes it – help the person who others ignore, give them what they need – whether that is medical help, money, shelter or transport.Read more