And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach. Mark 3:13-14 (ESV)
Jesus walked physically and spiritually with his earliest disciples. No cars, trains, horses or donkeys–they walked everywhere, and that gave them something valuable that modern society seems to have little of–time. Life was lived out and experienced together. Lessons, laughs, minor squabbles among the disciples, stones in a sandal, rashes from poisonous plants, avoidance of snakes, awe at a sunset, refreshment from a spring to sooth a dusty throat, stories about childhood, all of this and more were a part of the long walk together from town to town. There was an “intentional withness” to Jesus’ discipleship pattern. He called them to himself that he might send them out to preach. They were going to observe something in him and from him and they were going to be sent out to do similar kinds of things (Cf. Luke 10) The apostle Paul seems to have developed his missionary band in a similar fashion. We have some major barriers to overcome in our time
- transportation makes us more mobile; we’re simply not around.
- jobs are farther away, isolating us in our cars for long stretches of time.
- refrigeration keeps us inside, food supplies are near.
- American individualism and views of privacy further isolate us.
- electronic gadgets of all kinds (TV, radio, ipod, computers, kindles, hand held games, xbox, etc., etc.) encourage us to amuse ourselves to death. [See Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death]
- concern for family members living at great distances from us.
- easy availability of books make it possible to be a part from others for long periods.
- attention to our ornamental gardens and lawns keeps us focused on our “castle”
Combined, all these create a culture where spending the kind of time together with young disciples that would be truly transformative in their (and our) lives is almost unheard of. How do we learn to do life together better? Question: How do we get more “withness time” with new disciples?