In Luke’s story of 12-year-old Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:41-52), Jesus says to Mary, “I must be about My Father’s business.” In saying this, Jesus is emphasizing: I must keep the calling that I am to pursue in focus.
Mary says, “Son, why have you done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Jesus responds, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” While Mary speaks of herself and Joseph, Jesus speaks of himself and God, of the necessity God has laid upon him. There is a necessity God has required of him. There is a necessity God has declared about him. It is that necessity about which he must direct his life. There is a calling upon him that he must pursue.
Jesus doesn’t want Mary to be confused. The necessity of his life is not found in the carpentry business. The reason for his being in the world and the reason toward which his life is aimed is not construction. The reason for his life, the necessity of his life, lies not in his occupation but in his vocation. He must be about the Father’s business and calling. He must be about what the Father has declared and demanded from his life. He must be about what the Father is laying upon his life.
Necessary Christianity is a maturity in Christ that knows the difference between occupation and vocation. It knows the difference between making a living and living the life God has called us to. While our life includes our occupation, it’s more than our occupation. We are called to a vocation. We have a charge to keep. We live life knowing that the Father has some business for us to attend to. There’s an assignment for our life, a calling on our life. God has requirements for our life. He has made a declaration about our life. We must be about our Father’s business. We must be about the claim God has made on us. We must be found faithful in the stewardship with which we have been entrusted.
Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” It’s as though he was saying, “If you had remembered that I must be about my Father’s business, you would have known where to find me. You would have known where to look for me. You would have known where I was. If you had remembered that I must be about my Father’s business, you would have known to look for me in my Father’s house first rather than last. You would have known that I’d be where the Father wanted me to be.”
When we are about the Father’s business, we are found where the Father is. We are found where the Father assigns us and where the Father has called us. There are some places where we must be found when we’re about the Father’s business. We must be found in the Father’s house worshiping him and giving him glory. We must be found in the Father’s house learning about him. We must be found in the midst of the fellowship of the saints of God. We must be found in the field being a witness for the Lord. We must be found on our knees praying to God. We must be found with our delight in the law of the Lord and meditating on his law day and night. When we live a necessary life, people should know where they can find us. They should know that they can find us pursuing the call of God.
Bishop Claude R. Alexander Jr. is senior pastor of The Park Church (Charlotte, NC) and a CCCU board member. This has been adapted from his new book, Necessary Christianity. ©2022 by Claude Richard Alexander Jr. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com.