Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Power of "Being With"

In Mark 3:14 we read that Jesus appointed twelve that they might (first) "be with" him and then later that they might be sent out. We have not learned this well in the church, nor at times within our natural families. "Being with" is a godly trait ... it is even reflected in one of his revealed Names (Immanuel). It is what Jesus promised to his disciples before he ascended to heaven. It is the wonderful gift of "presence", the purpose for which Jesus died on the cross, and for which he ascended into heaven. I want to suggest that it is the foundation for helping form and shape the life of another - be it children in our natural family or believers in our spiritual family.

A friend recently blogged about her thoughts on raising children and fostering authentic spiritual life so as not to "lose them to the surrounding culture" (you can read about it here). I would suggest that behind her positive suggestions for how to best influence them for good, lies the idea of "being with". However this does not simply mean being in the same room or under the same roof, but rather learning how to build intimacy as a foundation for life, meaning and growth. This intimacy must be mutual - a vulnerable sharing of oneself whilst also seeking to deeply know the other person/child. The end of this is not simply knowledge however, but loving care. That is most likely to happen when know one another at an intimate heart level. Someone else once said, 'if you're bored with someone, you've probably not truly met them. If you're irritated with them then you haven't seen their heart.'

Such intimacy and care is what builds trust (aka 'faith') and authentic community. That is a process however, and calls for personal transformation and growth ... from us all. Jesus sought to connect and be with us at the start of this process thank goodness! We know this spiritually but I suggest that he also modeled this as a man in his appointing of the disciples. Another 'hard saying' of Jesus that I read this week as I was pondering these things, was his words in Mark 3:33-34 "Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother."

Jesus seems to be putting a high value on his spiritual family, the family of God. Can we begin to see the parallel between raising our natural children and being a part of the spiritual formation of God's children (or at least a few of them!) and that the principle of "being with" holds for both. Perhaps one of the reasons that
so often 'church-goers' are seemingly lost to the culture around us, is that we are not following the example Jesus gave in inviting people to "be with" us and seeing intimate friendship as foundational to our being formed into devoted followers of Christ. It is through this connection that people are best shaped by not only conceptual truth (of the Scripture) but also the experienced truth of love as the energy of the Holy Spirit is released from us (see John 7:38).

1 comment:

JimL said...


At the beginning of the third paragraph you wrote "Such intimacy and care is what builds trust (aka 'faith') and authentic community.", referring to getting to know someone (and I assume people) at an intimate heart level. I was pondering this statement and wondered, which came first, getting to know someone at this heart level or trust. In the previous paragraph you stated that "this intimacy must be mutual", which I agree, but I think about relationships in my life that are intimate and it seems that they have come about by "life together". This could mean many things, both good and bad, but walking together through those experiences. And through that walking together, trust and commitment is built which then leads to intimacy. Sorry for the long windedness.