I love Jesus’ example of relationship. From the way He called the disciples to follow Him to the way He performed His healing miracles. Once we go to Him Jesus always goes with us as far as we need, and He recognizes when we are ready to go before we can see it for ourselves. For me, this is one of the most beautiful things about Jesus. Reading about the way Jesus approached and lived out relationships made me want to be like Him. Being a naturally socially awkward person, I’ve always found relationships hard to start, difficult to maintain, and impossible to keep. Many people around me have adult friends that they knew from childhood. I do not. Deep down I wish I had those kinds of relationships and am envious of people that do have those people in their life.
This is probably part of the reason I love my brother’s as much as I do. They were the ones who were there with me from the beginning of my journey of life. Being the youngest I always looked up to them and wanted to be like them even when they would exclude me and treat me harshly. I never understood why they didn’t want me around or why they found someone who wanted to be like them so annoying. I get it now of course; youngest siblings are often needy and confused. They need to be taught everything and have no one to teach. This is undoubtedly a driving force to my desperation for discipleship. I want to be taught how to live life better and then I want to show others how to do the same. I am not sure I would be the same as I am today had I not grown up the youngest child by default. I think it likely had my younger brother survived infancy that I could have ended up excluding him the way my older brothers excluded me but it’s hard to say for sure because I was a sensitive and compassionate kid and my brother would likely have had special needs. But I guess I’ll never really know and it doesn’t really matter since this is the reality I grew up in and live with today.
One thing that came out of my childhood was a desire for brothers to treat each other better. It’s true for biological brothers and spiritual brothers as well; we need to be taught by the more experienced and teach the inexperienced. This is the essence of discipleship. It is the thing we are all called to from the beginning of our lives and is without a doubt closely tied to the meaning of life. Some will laugh at the very notion that life has meaning at all. However, I believe that the reality is not that life has no meaning rather that, the real meaning is so simple we miss it. I fear realizing the meaning of life right before I die and then it being too late to do anything about it, too late to live it out. The closest thing to ‘the meaning of life’ I see in the Bible is relationship with God and People. Love God, love people, period. The two greatest commandments spelled out by Jesus are very much in line with the discipleship examples given to us in Genesis’ creation story all the way through the New Testament. God created man, showed him everything, had him name everything, gave him a partner and had him show her everything he learned and then told them to make babies and teach them about everything on earth as well. It has been our call from the beginning and it is still true today. I have heard it suggested that the meaning of life is one thing and that one thing is different for everyone. This is not the example I see in the beginning of scripture all the way through to the end. Nor is it in regards to my own life experiences, childhood desires, and adult longings, they all point to the same thing. The meaning of life is found in relationships of discipleship.
We are all called to live life with others and to help one another. To live in relationship with God and people in a selfless, peaceful, and harmonious way is simple, but not easy, much like the life of Jesus. Now it’s interesting to me that I often hear people say that Jesus called the disciples to Himself or that He gathered them. However, in the beginning of the relationship the first two followed Him and He asked them what they wanted. Then they told their friends to come and meet Jesus. This is significant because Jesus was there but waited for those who would seek Him out and accepted them into relationship. The only times Jesus went to the people it was for public teaching or in the few cases of healing those who could not be moved from their beds. All other intimate moments were initiated by the other party. They went to Him, then He pressed in.
This is true also when we watch Jesus perform miracles. When Jesus healed people they either approached Him for the healing, or they were brought to Him. Again, Jesus only went to the ill when they were confined to their rooms. It is also interesting to note that Jesus went as far as people needed Him to go to receive their healing. Some people needed mud made from His spit rubbed on them, some needed to touch His clothes, some needed to just hear Him say the healing command, while that one gentile just needed Jesus to say it would be done. Jesus met them where they were.
Jesus, being the perfect disciple maker, also knew when the disciples were ready for ministry. Jesus sends them out after some time spent with Him, watching Him, and learning His ways of doing things. They were not ready to do it all without Him, still He knew they needed to experience some of what their ministry would look like while He was on earth to help and assist them. He didn’t just do this one time, but twice and by the third time He sent them out with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is an amazing example when it comes to relationships. He makes Himself available, waits for a response, presses in deeper and again waits for a response. Now, when we make disciples, we too should make ourselves available to the people around us and then press in when we get a response. If we follow this balance of invitation and challenge and pray that Jesus helps us keep each part in balance with the other. Then we should see some Kingdom breakthrough it the lives of those around us. Life with Him is like a dance and His love is the great romance.