Jesus invites people to be with Him. “Follow Me…” was heard regularly as He selected those who were to come to be known as His apostles. After choosing the 12, Mark 3 states that He called them to be “with Him” and that He might send them out to preach. They were connected to a person – following a person – and not just a set of beliefs and doctrines.
Crowds loved to be with Him; His friends gathered close so they could be with Him. He promised that when two or more are gathered together He would be with them. Jesus shared His life with others and relationships, like His friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, were very important to Him. Withness was key to His ministry as He was almost always with a crowd of people – multitudes followed Him.
When you were born again He gave to you the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b). This gift is defined as a relationship or the supernatural ability to be with Him all of the time (John 17:3). He wants us to be with Him. Jesus wants relationship and community more than He wants an institution or organization.
We need to learn something from His example. People today – since 9/11 – have put more value on relationships than they have for a long, long time. They have come to realize that their relationships are more important than another meeting, another business trip, more time at the office, or many of the other things that seem to occupy our waking hours. Sociologists are calling this a “stickiness” factor. People are interested in withness.
The stickiness is everywhere. Bryan Dyson, the former CEO of Coca-Cola, gave a speech in which he asked his hearers to imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air.
“You name them: work, family, health, friends, and spirit. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.”
People are valuing relationships now more than ever. Community has become important. Withness is a key value in today’s society. Thus we see the monumental rise of Facebook, Twitter, Share and a dozen other internet social networks.
So here is my point: If you are hoping to be a witness you first have to be part of the ongoing withness. Witness arises out of withness. As you build relationships, become involved in people’s lives, get connected within the community – then you will have opportunity to be a witness for the Lord and for the Gospel.
Withness and then witness.