“No way! Jesus NEVER left behind someone who needed his help! I refuse to believe he ever did that!”
The student was adamant. In fact, she was angry at even the suggestion that this could be true. Then came the problem. I read the following to her:
Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed:”Everyone is looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else… “ (Mark 1:36-38 NIV).
“What? I can’t believe it. Jesus DID leave those people behind! I don’t understand… ”
I nudged her to look at the end of the verse where I had quit reading:
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).
Jesus stuck with the mission! He focused on his “one thing” that God had sent him to do at this point in his ministry.
Amazingly, both Jesus and the apostle Paul make clear that they lived with a very clear sense of the mission that God gave them to do (John 4:34; Acts 20:24). When both reached the end of their lives, they were confident they had “finished” what the Father had called them to do (John 19:30; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
I don’t know about you, but this is remarkable. Yet more than remarkable; it is our standard, our goal, and our target! The church, the local congregation, is the bodily presence of Jesus in the community. We are Jesus to the people around us. God has equipped us and given us a specific mission in our community and in the world.
Yes, there are things all disciples and all churches should do. Yet there are specific things that God has uniquely positioned each congregation to do as Jesus’ Body. The real question is whether or not we will do our “one thing” or if we will be distracted by many good things?
Jesus knew, of course, what Jim Collins would later champion in his famous book, Good to Great: “Good is the greatest enemy of the great.”
Nobody is knocking doing good things. Good things need to be done. Even in the situation we find Jesus living through in Mark 1, Jesus does good things. But, when good things begin to crowd out the “one thing,” Jesus puts his ministry and his team back on track. “That is why I have come!” the Lord says. So he does it.
So let’s notice how Jesus does it:
- He intentionally gets away to be alone with God in prayer to center himself in his Father’s will (Mark 1:35).
- He verbally communicates his mission to his disciples, reminding them of his “one thing” (Mark 1:38).
- Jesus specifically and immediately does his “one thing” without delay, sticking to the mission(Mark 1:39).
- Jesus personally involves himself with a person in need that is directly in his path as he does his “one thing” (Mark 1:39-40).
That translates into a pretty clear plan to help us stay on track with our “one thing”:
- Pray together to discern and clarify the “one thing” God has called us to do.
- Verbalize our “one thing” in concrete terms — actions to take, use of money, and scheduling priorities.
- Do the “one thing” first: don’t just talk about it and don’t let it get kicked down in priority.
- Minister to others God places in our paths as we do our “one thing” while not forgetting what our “one thing” is.
- We must not let the good — whether it’s good stuff other churches do, good opportunities that others believe we should fulfill, or simply stuff that makes us good — distract us from the “one thing” God has called us to accomplish.