Being and Doing

When Howard Hendricks was a student at Wheaton College, his mentor, Dr. H.C. Theissen told him, “Hendricks, master the Master’s life!” On that basis, Hendricks devoted himself to the lifelong study of the four gospels.

One of the advantages of reading and re-reading the gospels, is to show us how we may “learn from” Christ (Matthew 11;29). The apostle Peter reminds us of the importance of following “in his steps” ( 1 Peter 2:21). This is discipleship.

There is a phrase in Mark 3:14 that illustrates this. When Jesus called his twelve disciples, it was so that “they might be with him and that he might send them out. . . .” I cannot help but notice how being with Jesus precedes doing things for Jesus. Before the Lord sent them out he wanted them to spend time with him.

He chose Philip, Nathaniel, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the zealot, Andrew, John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon, whom he nicknamed Peter. He chose them to be his apostles and to learn from him. (Judas Iscariot heard and saw, but he did not listen and learn.)

What did the Lord want these men to learn from him? He modeled perfect holiness and taught compassion, servanthood, prayerful dependency upon the Father in heaven. He was the embodiment of sacrificial love. He cared for the weak, the poor, the marginalized. Their being with Jesus was for the purpose of their learning from him the principles of God’s kingdom.

Many people seem to think that the first requirement the Lord puts upon us is to do something for him. But the first requirement in discipleship is not doing but being. Jesus is primarily concerned with what we are becoming. He wants to remake us in his image. This is a process called sanctification. He wants us to be like himself (Romans 8:29).

Are you spending time with Jesus? Is there a part of your day when you have uninterrupted fellowship with him? A time when he speaks to you through his word and you respond to him in prayer? Some call it private worship, some call it daily devotions, some call it a quiet time.

It doesn’t really matter what you call it. What matters is that there is the cultivation of a growing relationship with Jesus. Out of that “being” relationship flows the “doing” of effective ministry.

E. M. Bounds, in his classic book Power Through Prayer wrote, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.”

Just as certainly as the Lord invited ordinary men to be with him, so he invites you and me to spend time with him. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, God “has called you into fellowship with his Son. . . .”

Pastor Randy Faulkner