In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. – Luke 6:12-22 [ESV]
I first learned it as a balanced life. UP-IN-OUT, all equally balanced in focus, energy, and intent. Our relationship with God, our connection with other believers, and our evangelistic interactions with people outside the faith all equally balanced. But perhaps “integrated” is a better word than “balanced.” In either case, Jesus is a wonderful example of such a life. In these few verses of Luke we see just how true that was for Jesus.
Jesus spends the night in prayer. He was deeply connected with his heavenly Father. There is a great mystery here. How could Jesus as the Son of God, or as God incarnate, need to spend time in prayer? Why would he do that? How could God-in-the-flesh need anything from God-in-heaven? But mystery aside, Jesus did pray. A lot. A long time. This wasn’t the only time either. Jesus had a deep relationship with his Father in heaven, looking up to him for strength and guidance.
Immediately we learn that Jesus then chooses the 12 and designates them as apostles: sent ones. He will pour himself into these 12 for the next three years. He will travel with them. Teach them. Challenge them. Comfort them. Send them out on mission. Receive them back when they return. Test them. Bless them. He poured himself into these 12 men.
And then he takes them with him down to the larger crowd of his disciples. They were joined by a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus was deeply concerned for those who were not part of God’s reign and rule. People from Gentile Tyre and Sidon are also in the crowd. His mission was to seek and save the lost. And he would take the 12 along with him in pursuit of those he came to save. He was always looking out for people in need of a Savior.
Rather than doing these three things in order to check them off the list, Jesus did them as a way of life. His approach to God and religion as a whole was wholistic as well. He didn’t have separate categories for his up, in, and out relationships. He embraced those three facets of faithfulness as an expression of his love for God and his love for us all.
As a follower of Jesus, I might imagine I have some pull with God. I expect him to hear and answer my prayers. I expect him to notice me when I stumble. But I must also realize that he hears others when they call. He notices when they stumble. He forgives and redeems. As a follower of Jesus, I must do the same. Not to fill in some sort of spiritual/discipleship checklist. But as a whole way of life. The way of an integrated life: faith, love and life all mixed together makes a beautiful thing.