Each of the four gospels and the book of Acts contain a version of the Great Commission. John articulated it in 20:21 by writing, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” This simple phrase goes a long way toward our understanding of what it means to be missional. From it we learn that our sentness is rooted in the divine sentness of Christ and it is modeled in the incarnation of Christ.
Today I want to peek over to Luke’s gospel and add two more closing thoughts on what it really means to go into the world. Luke 24:47-48 reads as follows, “It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent. You are witnesses to all these things.”
Our sentness is informed by the message of Christ, for as we go into the world we carry the message of repentance and forgiveness. It’s sad to see a great New Testament word like repent be high-jacked by narrow minded groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Repentance is a word that the Christian community needs to fight for and reclaim. If we can push past the negative connotation and get to the original intent, the word simply emphasizes the change of orientation of one’s life. Like making a U-Turn in your car. The message of Christ describes the availability of life transformation by reorienting one’s life from sin and self to God. Forgiveness is abundant through God’s grace and we are made “whole”. Luke’s message is this: the message of Christ is the message of Christ’s missional people. We don’t have to think up our own message. It has already been communicated.
All of this, of course, is resourced by the Holy Spirit. Just as we don’t produce our own message, we don’t go in our own strength. Luke 24:49 continues, “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” We are divinely resourced for the missional life by the Holy Spirit of God.
Each of us has to personalize this calling to live the missional Christian life. It’s not just the job of the professional clergy or the missionary. You have been sent, just as Jesus was sent. And as Jesus was sent into the world, you have been sent to a specific place in time. You are the presence of Christ wherever you are. So embrace your sentness and express it in your places and spaces.