Many years ago I was enthralled with the teaching of a pastor from the West coast area. I would read his books, listen to his teachings and go to conferences where he would be ministering. After several months of devouring every word and expression that this godly man spoke, I started to notice that I would say the same phrases and use the same mannerisms of this pastor. I had studied his material and been around his teachings so much that I was becoming a replica or disciple of him. Looking back at what had happened during that period of my life, I can’t help but think of how we are influenced by those that we associate closely with.
In Mark chapter 3 we have Jesus calling his twelve disciples. “He (Jesus) went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (vs. 13-15). Notice that before these twelve apostles were to go and preach, to have the power to heal or to cast out demons, the scriptures says that they were appointed “that they might be with Him.” This was the first step towards their apostolic calling.
Note that the scripture does not say that they were to follow Jesus, which many people from the crowds did. Nor does it say that they were just to embrace His teachings as being true – which these apostles obviously did. These apostles were to actually spend close interactive time with Jesus, which they did for three and a half years. In fact, they had spent so much time with Jesus, that even though they were uneducated and untrained men, others marvelled because of their boldness and the way in which they spoke and they quickly perceived that these men acted the way in which they did, because they had been with Jesus, (Acts 4:13).
As with the apostles, the strength and effectiveness of our lives will be determined, not just by whether we follow Jesus or accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, but by the amount of time and the quality of time in which we are with Jesus. Just as this was the first step for the calling of the apostles, so it is to be our first step also. Lord Jesus, help us to take the time to actually be nearer to you.