Debriefing the Red Letter Challenge
Jesus said to His disciples “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)
What can we anticipate as we near the finish line of the Red Letter Challenge? We’ve been listening to Jesus each day… and being challenged to put His words into practice. Does that have to end? Certainly not! The pattern of “letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly” (Colossians 3:16) is vital for every season of our lives.
As I’ve been pondering what might be ahead for us as a community following Jesus together, there’s a narrative in the sixth chapter of Gospel according to Mark that has come to mind. Jesus’ twelve disciples are sent out two by two (Mark 6:7) to carry forward the mission and ministry into which Christ had called them. “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).
Those particular actions aren’t likely to be the specific things we end up doing today as followers of Jesus, but it’s certainly the case that there is a common connection between them and us. They were sent out to put into practice the very things Jesus had called them to do. We also are on the cusp of this sort of context here at the conclusion of the RLC.
This is where God’s Word provides insight into what has happened to His followers at a time when they were going about the business of living out the teachings of Christ. As I read this passage of scripture, there are three aspects of the narrative I notice… and I am keeping an open eye to see if it might also be part of what happens for us as a Cross family too.
- Someone doesn’t like what the followers of Jesus are doing. (Mark 6:14-16)
- Human nature and the devil’s scheming conspire to cause suffering for God’s people. (The flashback of Mark 6:17-29)
- Jesus debriefs with the disciples—inviting them to engage in solitude and rest—before continuing on with further works of Christ-led ministry. (Mark 6:30-32)
Those of you who know my “spiritual gift” (which, jokingly, is long-windedness) can be sure there is much I would love to say about this whole section… [and would gladly do so if you want to chat!] but I’ll exercise some necessary restraint here.
Simply be encouraged to hear this: Following Jesus (i.e. listening to Him and putting His words into practice) brings with it no certainty that everything in our lives will go the way we want. Quite the opposite, we are basically guaranteed to face trouble for living a Christ-centered life (cf. Matthew 5:11, Mark 13:13, John 16:33, etc.) And yet, Jesus will not abandon us when life gets difficult or painful. He continually draws us to spend time with Him, receiving His divine care and guidance. He alone is the source of all the BEING, FORGIVING, SERVING, GIVING, and GOING that will result in our lives. To Him be the glory!