Thursday, May 25, 2006

"So I Have Sent Them"

This week's Gospel reading--John 17:6-19--, especially v.18, is foundational to understanding what it means to be missional. John captures Jesus' farewell address(Chapter 15) to his disciples and his prayer for them as he was about to be on his way to the cross and, as celebrated today, his ascension into heaven. It is important to note that Jesus did not call his followers to any other agenda but to go out into the world (after he explained what that meant) just as he came into their world, as one sent from the Father. In his prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father, "So I have sent them." The sending had already been done. It took place in the spiritual formation that took place in their lives as they walked the dusty roads of their land with Jesus on their way to somewhere Jesus knew God wanted him to be, as they ate and drank together, as they traveled across the Sea of Galilee, during times of healing and compassion provided by Jesus. In this prayer, Jesus was confident that he had already sent them. He also knew that they would need to be reminded that they were sent and that this meant to be on the go. Their temptation, Jesus knew, would have been to be sedentary. These words of Jesus hit home for followers of Jesus today. As I look at my own life and that of the church, especially here in the United States, I see that we would rather call out for the world to come out of the world and into our building. Once they arrive in our buildings, then we can give them a great performance and display of Jesus, at least our image of who Jesus is for our group. I could go on and on about the crazy things churches do to get people to come to us (I saw where a church in Ft. Worth is giving away a car one Sunday). I could also spend some time writing about what Jesus we are displaying and how so many times in our churches it is far from the historical Jesus we find in the gospels. Jesus used the word "sent" and so we must go. But how can a church strike a balance between being a place of worship and a missional community; between gathering and scatttering? I'll focus on that in my next post.


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