In John 20:21 the resurrected Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
God Is a Sending God
He sent his best into the world to save us. Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty-four times in the New Testament. And then after his resurrection, he passes his identity on to his disciples. In other words, to follow Jesus is to be sent.
When we think of Jesus being sent from the Father, we think of him leaving the glorious host of heaven where praises resound to the glory of God in order to walk on this dusty earth mired in confusion and pain. Without diminishing his deity, Jesus emptied himself of its privileges and took on the limitations of human form. Wrapped in complete humanity, Jesus experienced our temptations and entered our suffering. Jesus repositioned himself for our sake. It was more than a relocation; it was incarnation.
So, if Jesus sends us as the Father sent him, we are to position ourselves for a greater purpose than serving ourselves. This is the goal of missional living: to see the primary purpose of where you live, work, and play being to represent Christ to those around you—to incarnate yourself among them. This goes beyond agreeing to the value of evangelism and mission; this is making life choices on the basis of evangelism and mission.
Now, let’s be real. Going from normal living to “living sent” is a big jump! To expect it to happen immediately is like expecting someone who has just read the book of John for the first time to move to India to start a church because the people there have never heard about the book of John. To live sent requires perspective, priorities, and a plan. There are small steps along the way that help us move forward.
Let’s consider the steps Jesus took during his earthly ministry.
- At the start of Jesus’ public ministry, he was baptized by John. This identified him as God’s beloved Son (Matthew 3:17). Then he continued referring to himself as the Messiah sent from God. Likewise, the first step of discipleship for us is baptism where we identify as followers of Jesus. That first step is meant to become the normal pattern of letting others know what we believe and who we follow. Do you regularly identify as a follower of Jesus? Do friends, family, coworkers, neighbors know that you are a Christian (and not just that you go to church)? How do you let others know what you believe?
- Jesus then invited others alongside him when he said, “Follow me.” To the people around you who know you follow Jesus, have you let them know they can be included too? Who have you invited to church or community group or to read the Bible with you?
- Jesus stated his own ministry was to seek and to save the lost. Jesus knew others needed salvation and wouldn’t come find it on their own. He reached out beyond the local carpenter union and spent intentional time with Samaritans, tax collectors, and others who were not like him. Do you seek out or try to create opportunities to share your faith with people beyond your natural sphere of influence?
- Not only did Jesus come to earth; he went to Calvary. He never lost sight of the fact that his primary purpose on earth was to go to the cross.
Do you see the primary purpose for being in your place or position is to further God’s mission? For some, this will mean a relocation. For all believers, it means a repurposing of ambition so that we leverage our lives for the mission of God.
Consider the steps Jesus modeled for us (identify, invite, seek, go). Where are you now? What is one thing that you could try to grow as a witness for Christ?