Conclusion – sent as Jesus was sent
Christ’s life was a pattern of the perfect human life. In His incarnation He modelled to us what perfect obedience to His Father looks like. As He contemplated His return to the Father’s side He was able to say to those who had followed Him closely for three years that He was sending them into the world as He had been sent. Not only does the message of Christian mission centre on Jesus, but the means of Christian mission should look a lot like Jesus! We must remember that Jesus was speaking in John 20 to the men who would be foundational apostles in His Church. The authority they have to forgive sins on earth is not something we possess today. They remain authoritative for the Church in all ages through their gospel, recorded in the New Testament. The Church of the present continues the mission they began, going into the world in Jesus’ name.
As we do this, we learn many lessons from the example of Christ:
Sent to complete God’s work in each place, we bear testimony to the Christ in whom God’s saving work was finished. We sow and we reap, rejoicing together in God’s work through us and following where the Spirit has already been active.
Sent to please the Father, we declare truth in each context even where it stands in judgement upon falsehood. As we do so, we exercise humility, seeking to discern from Scripture what is false and what is true both in our own attitudes, actions and cultures, and in those we seek to reach.
Sent to do God’s will, we trust in God’s provision for our needs, both physical and spiritual, and we reach out to the needs of others in holistic mission of compassion and evangelism. We remember, however, that the results of our mission are not dependent on our technique but on God’s activity.
Sent to seek God’s glory, we renounce the temptation to seek personal acclaim or recognition and give ourselves sacrificially to the cause of Christ. We do not measure our success by numbers, but by faithfulness to the truth of the gospel.
Sent with the sender’s presence, we seek to follow the Spirit’s leading and depend on His power. We remember that it is God who transforms hearts and that Christ, ever present with us, is continuing His work in the world through His Church.
Sent by the Master, we acknowledge that we are servants of Christ, of the gospel and of those we are reaching out to. We seek to represent Christ and to point to Him, rather than to self, as we bow the knee and serve the needy.
Sent in holiness and unity, we maintain our devotion to God and live as His cleansed people, distinctive from the world yet engaged in it. We seek to respond to the unity we have in Christ by working in partnership with all who love Him to fulfil His great mission.
The imperative of mission is as strong today as it was when Christ first breathed on ten men (Thomas was absent) in a room in Jerusalem. The Spirit of God still leads His people out in unexpected ways to meet the needs that exist in His world. Mission has become ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ – it is no longer a one-way stream from the West to the rest. It will change shape in each place as needs change – sometimes pioneering evangelism, sometimes strengthening churches, sometimes meeting needs for healthcare and education, sometimes training leaders for church and society. All of these are valid within the great mission Christ has given us. In them all, however, we must remember that we are sent as Jesus was sent. We hear the Master say, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” and we go in His pattern.