I was struck by this revelation yesterday, “Would we release the apostles as soon as Jesus did?” When we see where the condition of the apostles’ faith and walks, one has to wonder if we would. Jesus had to know the condition of these boys following around with him, just as we often have a good sense of where our people are at as well. And yet, Jesus released every single one of the apostles, even his ultimate betrayer.
In the book of Mark, you will notice Jesus sent out the apostles in Mark 6. Yet, in the chapters ahead in Mark we see the disciples doing some fairly foolish things. For instance in Mark 9:33, the apostles argued with each other about who among them was the greatest. In Mark 9:38, they acted exclusive about doing ministry and insisted that Jesus stop a lone man from performing ministry on the street, arguing that it was for them alone to do. In Mark 10, the apostles need to be admonished again, this time for trying to chase children away from Jesus, causing Jesus become indignant towards them. In Mark 10:46, blind Bart was sitting by the roadside begging and as Jesus passed by, Bart started shouting at Jesus. Luke 18:35 says that those that led the way rebuked Bart. Bart refused to listen and started shouting all the louder (I love that part). I have no doubt in my mind that some of the apostles led the way knowing where Jesus wanted to go and were clearing a way through the large crowds for him. And who cannot forget about Peter’s disowning of Jesus and Judas’ betrayal of the Lord himself. Jesus knew all these things and yet, he released every one of them, even his very betrayer. Jesus didn’t seem to hesitate to release them. Why? Some questions come to mind. How could be sure their doctrines were aligned? How would he be sure they were marching in step with him? Maybe that’s because he knew, when we are weak, he is strong? I’ll explain.
We know that the apostles were doing ministry at times without Jesus around because after they were released in Mark 9 the apostles have a conversation with Jesus about being unable to heal a boy of evil spirits. This is when Jesus teaches them that some things only come out by prayer and fasting. Apparently Jesus wasn’t afraid of the apostles’ mistakes or if they were perfectly aligned to him in doctrine because we find no such warnings in scripture. How could they be, given the state of their condition described in scripture. Why then do we hold on so much to own people and never release them? Why do we require so much alignment, agreement, yes even perfection to look, act, and be like us if we know there is a Holy Spirit who guides us all? God does not require loyalty, obligation and duty but he does require that we know those who labor among us. But even with that in mind, no one is advocating that we pull perfect strangers into ministry with us, although I think it’s fair to say that perhaps we have let the pendulum go too far to the other side.
If we believe there is a Holy Spirit at work in all of us, and of course Jesus knew that there was, shouldn’t we be more confident in knowing that he will? I look at it this way. I believe Jesus knew that these boys had little in the way of training, experience, knowledge or even correct doctrines. How can any of us believe they had anything more than faith in God? There was no bible read or any church they belonged to where their readiness for ministry could be evaluated. All they knew was that there was a living God and he may be Jesus himself.
And here’s another question to ponder. If the apostles had nothing in the way of “tools” to do ministry by, would they think they did any of the ministry by their own strength? Not likely. I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and I always feel challenged to do ministry. How much more would these totally new believers have been feeling challenged? That means, in their total weakness, God came to them and made them appear strong. That’s a pretty impressive act of trust – by God. Would we have trusted them like Jesus did?
If only we trusted our people as much as Jesus did. Jesus didn’t make the apostles sit and listen to him month after month, year after year proving themselves loyal to him. He just put them immediately into the game. If only we released people into ministry sooner instead of asking them to prove their loyalty to our mission or our ministries. After we get to know them, shouldn’t it be just enough to demonstrate that they just love God? Perhaps our lack of release of more people into ministry says more about us than we think. If we want to foster a culture of release then we need to trust more. We need to trust people and trust Holy Spirit that he will align us all the way he wants without our need to control everything.