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When it comes to pace, forward motion, and getting things done promptly generally, the Church finds itself on the slow end of the spectrum. So many good ideas never take off because “we’ll get to that tomorrow.” So many kingdom actions are never actualized because we need to wait for many factors to align perfectly. We justify our slowness with the defense of “it must not be God’s time to do this” or with cries of “Jesus calls us to rest/Sabbath/slowness.” But the reality is that scripture paints a different picture of the expediency we must usher in His kingdom. The beginnings of Jesus’ ministry are marked with the immediacy of the task at hand – boldly saying that now is the time to get things done.

As I was reading through the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as told by Mark, I was struck by how many times the word “immediately” is used. It is the most common word in the first chapter of Mark, used eight times, while the next couple of chapters are full of examples of how Jesus continued to live immediately. The gospel didn’t begin slowly. It started with speed, passion, and intensity – it had a fast-paced immediacy about it. Consider the following –

1)    There was an immediacy in God’s desire to launch Jesus’ Ministry (Mark 1:10)

Jesus’ ministry begins with His baptism. As Jesus comes out of the water of the River Jordan, a public declaration of the start of His ministry, God immediately affirms that Jesus is His man. In a split second, He sees the heavens open, and the Spirit falls on Him to equip Him for the task, and then immediately He hears life defining words of affirmation and empowerment coming straight from heaven – “This is my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”

As God was immediate in His desire to affirm and encourage His son, so He is with us. Often we think that we need to “be ready” or “manage our sin better” to hear God’s words of affirmation and calling to us. But we don’t. God’s call and promise to us come immediately if you want it… right now!

2)    There was an immediacy in Jesus’ obedience (Mark 1:12,21,29)

When the Father said “Go,” Jesus immediately went (John 5:19). He immediately went into the wilderness for a time of testing and training (12). Once back, He immediately entered the synagogue and began teaching, and immediately after He was done there, He went to His subsequent assignment to heal Simon’s mother in law.
Jesus modeled for us that obedience to God must happen immediately. I am trying to help my children understand that obedience must happen immediately to be obedient. For example, as I ask them to tidy their rooms, I don’t count it as obedience if it takes them two weeks to do it. We must learn to follow Jesus so faithfully that when He says “go,” we move, and when He says “do,” we get it done.

3)    There was an immediacy in the disciples' response (Mark 1:18, 20)

When Jesus cried out to His disciples, “Follow Me,” we read that their response was immediate. They didn’t think twice; they didn’t spend a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons of a decision… they made it and left straight away. There are so many invitations that Jesus offers to us – ones that will give us incredible hope and a fantastic future (Jeremiah 29:11) that we miss simply because we are too slow in our response. We paralyze our decisions by over-analysis. We choose obedience according to our comfort level, priority list, or security, and often by the time we are ready, the opportunity has passed.

I sense that if the disciples had waited too long to say yes to Jesus, they would never have followed Him. Other factors would have influenced them, and “common sense” would have talked them out of making such a radical decision. Their future and their legacy were shaped because these guys responded to Jesus immediately. The question for us becomes: How immediate is your response to Jesus?

4)    There was an immediacy in needs being revealed and met (Mark 1:23, 30)

As Jesus was in the synagogue, a man with an immense need – an unclean spirit – was immediately revealed. A demon inhabited this guy. As soon as Jesus walked into the temple, the need revealed itself. The closer we walk to Jesus, and the more we walk in His power, the more immediately we see the conditions around us.

Quickly though, Jesus wants to meet these needs. He did it with the gentleman with the unclean spirit, and immediately after that, He immediately healed Simon’s mother-in-law. This is a huge part of what it means to engage in the kingdom fully. As we serve Jesus, we are immediately met with needs, and often, Jesus wants to use us to bring His healing immediately.

Following Jesus is more often than not about “immediately” than it is “wait.” Our ability to respond immediately determines our level of faithfulness, our commitment to the things of heaven, and the number of needs that will be revealed and met. We can no longer live in a season of procrastination. It is time for the Church – beginning with you and me - to rediscover the immediacy of the gospel.

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