Andrew Shearman is staying at our house this week. We have conversations till 1:30 at night and wake groggy, stumbling to the coffee maker. This morning we began talking about how we were called to follow Jesus. There’s a mystical aspect of it and and still a rational calculation. And faith is born somewhere in the middle.
Andrew is the weaver of dreams and magical faith stories who says that the disciples’ hearts leapt within them when they saw Jesus and somehow they had all that they needed to drop their nets and follow him. There’s a progressive revelation that begins in a moment. And still there’s the need for the rational. Often in these conversations I’m the champion of the rationalists. We need facts. We come to faith after weighing cost and benefit.
I don’t know about you, but God took his time with me. He waited around for me to pursue him. He was patient when I was a knucklehead and disappeared from the grid for months or years at a time. And I’ve come to the conclusion, that’s how he operates.
God is a relational God – he’s all about a conversation. It’s a dance. He advances, I move with him. I move his direction and he moves with me. In America we think we draw near to him primarily through study and intellect, when what he wants is relationship and time. Jesus started slow and relationally with his disciples and that’s what he wants with us as well. He gives us enough to understand context and expectation.
It seems a peculiarly American thing to present the gospel quickly and expect a conversion and “disciple” status. We need to rediscover Jesus’ Middle Eastern approach to relationships. He took time with his disciples.
How does this work for us as disciplers? Jesus doesn’t expect us to trust without knowing anything. He understands our humanity. He is only abrupt and demanding with those who should know better. With the rest of us, he develops relationship, just as he expects us to do. Let’s do a quick Bible study on the matter. Look at the way Jesus called out Peter in Luke 4 & 5:
1. He ministers and his reputation precedes him (4:37)
2. He preaches in the synagogue, probably meeting Peter there. (4:38)
3. Peter invites him to come eat at his house. (4:38)
4. Jesus meets his felt need and demonstrates his divinity by healing his mother-in-law. (4:39)
5. He does a lot of miracles which Peter presumably gets to see. (4:40-41)
6. Days pass and he moves around. (4:43-44)
7. He asks Peter for a favor “can I use your boat to preach” (5:3)
8. He returns the favor by helping his business “put out into deep water and let the nets down for a catch.” (5:4)
9. Peter is humbled & they have a conversation. (5:8)
10. Then he calls not only Peter to follow him, but a support group of his friends. (5:11)
All of this builds relationship based on trust and time. And even then he waits till Luke 6:12-13 to pray all night and confirm that the 12 were the ones who God had chosen. Conclusion: As we follow Jesus, we need to be patient with people – building a foundation of trust upon which relationship can grow.