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?