The Holy Gospel: July 22, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 6:30-34

Meditation:  “Long-Haul Discipleship”

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that this is one of the passages which I believe is pivotal for our discipleship.  I’ve studied it a long time and found it to be a treasure-house of insight—too many to compress into one meditation.

Today, I’ll simply reiterate that it is the passage where Jesus helped his disciples to see the necessity of establishing a “rhythm” in their lives—the rhythm of action/reflection.

The passage follows an extensive and stressful time of ministry, including having to deal with the grief of John the Baptist’s death, and the uncertainty it brought to them about their own future.

The disciples returned and reported all that they had done.  The very next step in their formation was not a new assignment.  Jesus did not tell them to go right back out and “win the world.”  He told them to take a break.

Some of us have only met “half” a Jesus—the Great Commission Jesus.  Our primary understanding of him and our relationship to him is in terms of the actions we believe he expects us to perform for him.  So, we find ourselves doing, doing, doing—and then doing some more.

But the same Jesus who calls us to work, also calls us to rest.  This is just as necessary as “being busy” for him.  In fact, without it, we never establish the rhythm of the spiritual life.

I’m grateful to people like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Susan Muto, and Eugene Peterson (to name a few)—women and men who have all said to establish this pattern as the means to long-haul discipleship.

If the Christian life were only a 50-yard dash, we could pull out all the stops, run as fast as we can, and it would soon be over.  But it is actually a marathon (Peterson’s “long obedience in the same direction”), and therefore it must be run differently.  Jesus shows us the different way in today’s lesson:  the rhythm of action/reflection—doing/being—working/resting.

And in Luke 5:15-16, he modeled it.  And what he practiced, he offered.  The only question is, “Have we accepted the offer?”  Or, are we still trying to run a marathon like it was a sprint?

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to The Holy Gospel: July 22, 2012 (Year B)

  1. As I am at the academy this week and reading this post about what it takes for long-haul discipleship, I recognize it is easier for me to take my times of rest, silence, and simply being when I am intentional and in an atmosphere created to support it. It is when I return to a different pace that my focus and intentionality must be stronger so that I can continue for the long haul.

  2. Jim Bradshaw says:

    As you have said, “We are to live within the pace of grace!”

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