Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
– John 20:21-22
A few months back in a Sermon I talked about this text. For those of you who weren’t there or whose memory is a bit hazy, I reminded folks that the Latin root for the word mission means sent. I also talked about how 45 times in the book of John we are told that God has sent Christ to dwell among us or that we have been sent out in the same way. Our God is a missionary God, a sending God.
Churches have some common ideas that come to mind when they hear the word mission. Foreign missions come to mind. The missions committee comes to mind. Unfortunately, it does not often conjure up the thought “my job”. Foreign missions are for those who have tremendous faith and are willing to give up life in this culture for the sake of the gospel. Clearly only few are called to that. The missions committee is an important aspect of the church as it decides how we allocate our mission payments.
I certainly do not want to disparage foreign missions or the individuals and institutions we support domestically. That said, these common mental connects to the word missions lets us off the hook. We can write a check and go about our business. When Christ says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” I suspect he wasn’t saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send some of your income.” He sends us! The gospel is always spreading, moving through walls and breaking down barriers. As I mentioned last month, the book of Acts makes that abundantly clear.
So what does that mean for us? If mission is bigger than folks talking about Jesus in a foreign country or sending a check to an organization doing good work in our area, what does it mean for us to be on mission for God? To answer that question we need to look back at our original sending. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” What did Jesus do? Based on John 20:21 that seems like a good place to start. To start, Jesus walked around with his friends a lot. He stopped and talked with strangers. People who culturally were considered less than, he spoke with as full humans. He healed the hurt. He showered love on children. He proclaimed and described the Kingdom of God.
At times, people seem to think emulating the life of Christ is an impossible burden. Jesus was too special for us to even try to conform too. However, when one looks at his actual life, what he actually spent his time doing, it wasn’t all that remarkable. Can we spend time with friends? Can we stop and talk to strangers? Can we help those with hurts? Can we shower love on children? Can we proclaim and describe the Kingdom of God? It seems to me all those things are well within our grasp. Even if we thought they weren’t there is that second part of this passage, “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” With the Holy Spirit at our side, we have nothing standing in our way. May we truly and deeply be a congregation full of passionate missionaries. A congregation on Mission with God!
In Christ’s Service,