This afternoon, I found myself wrapping up a phone call with Alex. We work together, but more than that, we have been following Jesus together for the past few years. We were trying to finish up some things for a client and working through what needed to happen to bring the project to a successful conclusion. At the end of the call, I said "I love you, man" and then hung up.
A smile flashed across my face realizing that while all of my work calls don't end with an "I love you", a lot of them do. I looked up from my computer screen and saw Derek and Mike. They were both busy working on their laptops. I laughed out loud at the thought of how great it is to do life with people that I love.
Recently, I had the privilege of joining my friend, Brian Orme, for an interview for the Borme Identity Podcast. During our chat Brian asked me about the rewards of choosing to follow Jesus and investing intentionally into a few people. While I stand by the answers that I gave in the interview, I failed to mention one of the most rewarding aspects of the way we try to live life. We get to share so much of it with people that we love.
I realized this in a new way a few months ago when I was talking with one of my mentors. It had been a while since we had spoken, so we were catching up on a variety of things. We talked about family, our church community, how work was going and about the process of writing and releasing this book. After a few minutes, he commented on the fact that a lot of the same names kept coming up in different areas of my life.
"It sounds like you are living a pretty integrated life." I had never really thought about that phrase before, but I knew exactly what he meant the moment that he said it. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of following Jesus.
One of the most clear cut things we see about the life and ministry of Jesus is the clear invitation that He gave to a handful of friends to follow Him and share life with Him. For three years they journeyed together. While we don't have an exact account of every one of their days together, we do get a good picture that their relationship transcended a professor / student relationship.
When they called Him, "Teacher", it was not because they had enrolled in a three credit hour class. No, the twelve spent and shared their lives with Jesus. These "untrained, ordinary men" walked with Him and fished with Him. They prayed together, and ate their meals together. They learned from Him as they lived life together with Him. The invitation to follow Him had meant that they would integrate their lives into His.
When Jesus knew that it was time for Him to leave His friends, Scripture tells us that He loved them to the end. Decades later, Peter pleads with those who, through the course of time, had begun to follow after Jesus. He told them that they should love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22) I believe that Peter's instructions came out of His experience of being loved by Jesus and that He knew that following Jesus would include growing in real, loving relationships with those around them.
I know that not everyone gets to work along side of people they are discipling, but I believe that a part of the call to follow Jesus and make disciples is altering our lives so that that we can intentionally share it with others. This will require adjusting the way we live. It could look like being intentional about choosing your next workout partner or purposefully sharing meals with people on a more regular basis. While there is no formula or checklist to growing into an integrated life- there is a commitment to be real with people as you follow Jesus and invite them along for the journey.
Photo Credit: Mike Weber