Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19)
Have you ever read a passage for the 100th time and caught something that you never saw before? That’s the beauty of Scripture, it is living and breathing and continually penetrates into our very core to transform us to be more Christlike.
I was reading this passage the other day and a phrase that is probably mostly overlooked stood out to me: that they might be with him. As I continue on in my own spiritual formation, I realize that God is not sitting there with a checklist of what I am accomplishing to be a better disciple of Christ. Instead, he is asking for total commitment and for time. When he called the first apostles, the plan was for them to spend as much time with Jesus as possible in order that they might be trained by him and grow in their relationship with the Father, through the Son.
Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that we were supposed to be bound to the Law, the very Law that Paul tells us we are no longer bound to. Although we have been saved by grace through faith, we continually try to come up with ways that we can earn our salvation. It is hard to accept grace. It is hard to think that someone would give us such a gift just because he loves us. So, we make every effort to feel like we are “earning” it.
God requires total commitment on our part, how are we doing with that? I know that I fall short. Things can push that time out of the way. I can begin to become very pharisaical and make every effort to “earn” my salvation. The Father is calling us to spend time with him that we might become more like his Son every day. That time does not always need to be filled with “stuff.” God speaks to us through his inspired Word and he speaks to us when we pray, but the Bible has stories of God’s speaking in the midst of silence. The best relationships are ones where neither party feels the need to fill the air with useless babble or meaningless conversation, sometimes more can be said in silence than with words.
So, how are you following the Master? Are you walking close, carrying your list, and checking things off as you go. Or are you content to stand in his presence, allowing him to transform you in whatever way he sees fit?