We are winding down the season of reflection and preparation that brings us to Easter. The months of winter seem to move with a slower and perhaps more deliberate rhythm – I think it is by God’s design that we are given the seasonal changes to provide a disruption to our routine. In similar fashion the worship calendar taps into our rhythms to disrupt us from life’s busyness to draw our attention to Jesus – his life, his salvific work, and especially to the reality that he is present with us.
It is extraordinary to consider the benefits we have because of Jesus – it is in him that we live and move and have our being. All that we have and all that we are is in him. It is Jesus who holds all things together.
In John’s Gospel Jesus says he came to give us life in abundance. So, what does that mean to a person living in the 21st century? Especially in our materialistic, consumer-driven world. It comes down to our understanding of abundance. Was Jesus talking about financial wealth and the accumulation of physical stuff? This was not the intent of his communication.
The “zoe” life (the Greek word for life in John chapter 10) that he was speaking of springs from a conscious, tangible, daily relationship with him. It is by being with him that his nature transforms our nature. It is his love that fills our life so that we can love; it is his faith that stands for us so that we can be faithful; and it is his peace that comforts us in life’s storms. True, abundant living does not happen apart from Jesus.
Acts 4:13 says this about Peter and John: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” – They had been with Jesus.
It is so easy to be jealous of the original disciples. What would it be like to spend three years following Jesus around Israel and having personal interaction? We can relive the experiences as we interact with the written word which is deeply meaningful. And the really good news is that we, too, can be with Jesus by communing with Him because he is the Living Word of God.
Listen to Commentator Matthew Henry. “Those that have been with Jesus, in converse and communion with him, have been attending on his word, praying in his name, and celebrating the memorials of his death and resurrection, should conduct themselves, in everything, so that those who converse with them may take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus; and this makes them so holy, and heavenly, and spiritual, and cheerful; this has raised them so much above this world, and filled them with another.”
This concept of “being with” translates to how we approach ministry. After the Damascus Road experience, the Apostle Paul was in Arabia for three years and during this time was being taught by Jesus. It is this same Apostle who instructed the Corinthian church to follow him as he followed Christ. The list of Paul’s protégés is quite long, with Timothy and Titus being the most notable.
Bible Professor Dr. Andreas Köstenberger says “While Paul preached the gospel everywhere, he went and planted numerous churches, perhaps his most important contribution was mentoring men such as Timothy and Titus.”
Paul approached ministry with the intention that he would pass along what he knew and what level of expertise he had to other capable men and women so that Gospel Messengers would multiply, and that Jesus would be made known.
There are many facets to mentoring.
Sponsorship mentoring: Barnabas did this for Paul as he began his ministry. Barnabas lent his good name and credibility to Paul. He opened doors Paul could not open for himself.
Paul in turn shows a more intensive style of mentoring in his relationship to Timothy. He intentionally takes Timothy under wing and disciples him. In essence he is a teacher, model, and guide for Timothy. He whole-heartedly believes that Timothy can care for the church in the same way that Paul does. Over the course of time, he sends him out to serve as a church Bishop.
Back in the early 2000’s I spent two years in a mentoring relationship with my good friend and pastor Bill Winn. Once Bill completed his internship and answered the call to pastor our GCI congregation in Richmond, VA he gave me this plaque. (READ)
Mentoring happens in seasons of time.
Over the last few years, I have been learning about reverse mentoring. I have younger staff members who help me learn about their generational preferences and creative ways of thinking and operating. Being that we are an international fellowship I engage with multiple people groups around the world, and I must learn from them if I am going to serve them well.
In their book Connecting, Paul Stanley and Bobby Clinton sum up mentoring this way – Mentoring is a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.
Having a relational guide to help you increase your knowledge base and learn new skills is an awesome gift to treasure.
In 2021 our Media department will be creating video clips to better define and educate us about the GCI ministry tools and values. The Apprentice square is a specific clip that will unfold more about the methodology and power of mentoring
I think Jesus was onto something when he sent the disciples out two by two. Think of how they learned from one another and the support they felt. Earlier we talked about how it was Peter and John ministering together when the crowd identified their intimate tie to Jesus.
It circles back to acknowledging and celebrating Jesus. As we make final preparations for Easter, may we be in a posture that allows us to whole-heartedly receive the overflowing graces of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Our forgiveness and salvation was made secure with Christ’s willing sacrifice on that dark Friday afternoon. And our hope and assurance for eternal life with Jesus was solidified when the Father raised him, and he went triumphantly out of the tomb.
Amen, and amen!