If we claim to be following in Jesus’ footsteps, then why do we spend so much time with other Christians and so little with non-believers?

According to people in 4 different congregations I’ve served, the biggest obstacle to their evangelistic efforts is not fear of sharing the good news, or persecution, or laws.  It is a lack of non-Christian relationships.  For 22 years people have been telling me that their friends and family members, those with whom they would be able to have a deep conversation, are all fellow believers.  We cheer churches that are tight knit and friendly, those with strong fellowship ministries, those where Christians can come and live life with other Christians.  We worry when a youth group isn’t strong because our kids will have too many non-Christian friends and too few believing ones.

Yet the Pharisees’ primary complain about Jesus was that He spent so much time with “tax collectors and sinners”, non-believers.  And His response to them and to us is, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  Yes, Jesus focused on His 12 disciples, but His ministry was bringing them into contact with non-believers so they could share the good news about all He had done and promised.

What would happen if we decided to spend the majority of our intimate time with non-believers?  What if our parties, our weekends, our holidays were spent with non-believing friends rather than fellow church-goers?  How might that change our church?  our lives?  the Kingdom of God?

Mark’s gospel is a good one for our busy American lifestyles.  Mark is mostly interested in Jesus’ actions and so moves faster than the other three Gospels.  With words like “immediately” and shortened tellings of our most well known stories, Mark is the gospel for the busy schedule.  And we’ve already seen that in chapter 1.  In the first chapter, we’ve seen John baptizing, and Jesus baptized, tempted, preaching, calling disciples, driving out demons and healing.  In fact, in one chapter, Jesus has done enough ministry that He needs to take a break.

Why do we feel guilty about taking a break from ministry?  Why does an hour taken in the middle of our day to rest and reconnect with God feel like “wasted time”?  Jesus recognized when He was getting tired and took the time to sit with His Dad and recharge.  And when the disciples came to Him with a scolding,”Everyone is looking for you!”, Jesus didn’t respond with guilt, or excuse, but with the vision He received from His Father.

If we truly want to know God’s will and have the strength to follow it, we need to take the time to “be still and know” our God.  Whether this is early in the morning, at night before bed, or sometime in the mid-day, time with God is mandatory for His children.  We cannot follow a God we don’t take time to know.  We cannot accomplish God’s will if we are too tired to act.

When is your time with God?  Are you clear about God’s specific will for you?  Are you rested enough to accomplish it?