A Sending People
This is a post is by Brandon Smith, who serves in leadership and as an adjunct instructor in theology and church history at Criswell College, where he is also associate editor of the Criswell Theological Review. He recently edited the book Make, Mature, Multiply, is a contributor to Designed for Joy, and writes regularly at Patheos.
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We are only a sending people because we have a sending God. Our mission, our Commission, is trinitarian in shape: the Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit, and the Godhead sends us. We are called to join in on what God is already doing—reconciling all things.
The Father Sent the Son
There was a long gap between Adam and Eve’s sin and the sending of Jesus. For many God-fearers, it must have felt like waiting on Mick Jagger’s Super Bowl halftime show to end—long, drawn out, and senseless. And yet in his own time, the perfect time, the Father sent his Son into the world to inaugurate his Kingdom. Even more, Jesus’s ministry meant the destruction of the reign of the prince of this world, Satan, that serpent who Trojan-horsed sin and death into the Garden.
The Son Sent the Spirit
Paul says in Romans 5:14 that Christianity is void and useless if Christ did not resurrect from the dead after his crucifixion. If Christ didn’t rise, he didn’t conquer death. If he did not conquer death, he didn’t conquer death on behalf of anyone else.
So the Father’s sending of Jesus wasn’t wasted. But it wasn’t the end either. After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, he came through on his own promise: to send a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to us (John 14:26). The Great Commission was given by Jesus, but he did not leave us alone to do it. By the Spirit’s guiding, God sends us into the world on his mission to seek and save the lost (Romans 10:14-15).
The Godhead Sends Us
We join in God’s plan of redemption through worshiping him with our lives and by telling others about the goodness of the Good News. This is what Jesus himself did, and this is what he calls us to. As Kevin Vanhoozer says, “Disciples imitate the Son … when they too glorify God in their bodies by performing works of grateful obedience.”
The battle plan against the forces of darkness is not some random idea the Godhead batted around over a boring Thanksgiving dinner. God’s people are made in his image, originally created to rule and reign over his creation as his emissaries (Gen. 1:26-27). Our participation in God’s ruling over creation was always part of the plan. We gave it away, but God took it back. Only now, it looks a little different. Adam and Eve were told to multiply more perfect image-bearers to the ends of the earth. Christians, post-Fall, are called to reflect the perfect Image, Jesus, by making disciples of his image-bearers to the ends of the earth. Sin is a cog, but not even the gates of Hell can stop us (Matt. 16:18).
That’s where we stand today. Jesus rocked the world for three years in a small area in the Middle East, and now the Holy Spirit allows us to take it to the rest of the world by his authority. We are a sending people, sent by a sending God. May we love others because he first loved us.