The dual calling of a disciple of Jesus

Mark 3:13-14 effectively captures the dual life of a disciple of Jesus. In fact, this may be the most compact but elusive description of the Christian life ever recorded. It is so compact that it is easily overlooked. It is elusive because most English translations miss the meaning inherent in its sentence structure.

In the NRSV, the passage reads like this:

13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons.

In Greek, there are two hina (pronounced "heena") clauses here. Hina can roughly be translated as "so that." Therefore, when Jesus appointed his disciples, there were two "so thats." These two "so thats" sum up the entire Christian life. Ready?

Number one: so that they might be with him.
Number two: so that he might send them out.

To be with him... to be sent out... this is our life.
We can also view it this way: To love God... To love others...

Most of us prefer one or the other of these two "so thats." People who gravitate to prayer and worship are geared to "be with him" but not so good at being sent out. People who gravitate to pastoring, teaching, evangelizing, and other people-oriented ministries are geared to "be sent out" but easily brush aside investing time being with Jesus. The thing is, the disciple is called to do both, not one or the other. Whatever our natural bent is, we need to receive encouragement from those who are strong where we are weak.

In addition, churches and movements have tendencies to one side or the other. The Western church is now waking up to the importance of being missional. It is imperative that we not allow being missional (being sent out) to crowd out being intimate with the Trinity (being with him). God knows, we are a people who love to do things without much prayer. As one foreign Christian once observed, "It's amazing what you American Christians can achieve without the Holy Spirit." If we follow Mark's Gospel, we will consider being with God and being sent out as two equally important and equally indispensable sides of the life of being a Jesus-follower.


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