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Vital Signs: When we respond

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’ Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Mark 1:40–45


Some aspects of our everyday discipleship don’t fit neatly into our pre-planned categories. In fact, they often don’t fit comfortably into our day at all.

That’s why it’s helpful to discover how, throughout his ministry, Jesus’ plans were interrupted.

Jesus amazingly turns these occasions into powerful and profound encounters. Some of the most significant moments in Jesus’ ministry seem to happen this way.

The reading today comes just after Jesus has expressed the need to move on to other places to ‘preach there also’ (v39). Whilst en route, he is stopped by, and subsequently heals, a man with leprosy (v40–42). By verse 45, we can see the growing demands on him and the more general picture of Jesus trying to seek out quiet places.

And yet, people seek him out ‘from everywhere’ (v45).

In this series, we’ve learnt lessons from Jesus’ example in the first chapter of Mark. When we seek to imitate Jesus, vital signs of healthy whole-life discipleship will emerge when it’s just us, when we gather with others, and when we plan.

But we should also always remember that a large part of discipleship simply happens when we respond in a Christlike way to whatever comes up in our everyday situations.

At some point in most weeks, the unpredictable is inevitable. How we respond in those moments is a critical marker of our discipleship for ourselves and for the colleagues, friends, and family around us.

In those moments, I want to live up to Paul’s challenge to Titus to ‘set them an example by doing what is good’ (Titus 2:7). The reality, though, is I’m likely to treat interruptions as unwanted disruptions rather than beautiful opportunities.

Perhaps getting it right in these moments depends on getting the first three things right.

In other words, we have a better chance of acting in a Christlike way if we already have an established pattern of spending time with God when it’s just us, if we prioritise the times when we gather with others, and if we consider everyday discipleship when we plan.

What’s true for whole churches is true for church leaders. And, of course, it’s true for us as individual disciples, too.

In our brand-new resource, Vital Signs, we explore all four elements – seeking to equip church leaders to ensure all our gathered times equip us for all our scattered times, throughout the week.

Ken Benjamin 

Director of Church Relationships at LICC and author of the Vital Signs book

Why not take the Vital Signs Assessment right now, to check how your church is doing?

What prayer or perspective might help you to view interruptions in a more Christlike way today?


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