“As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them in to the world” (John 17:18)
What’s a missionary? Sometimes we may have a mental image of a missionary as someone who goes halfway around the world to an exotic or at least very different location to spread the gospel. Of course,
there are missionaries who fit that description, but there are many missionaries who don’t fit that pattern. A missionary is someone who has been sent. The word “missionary” comes from the Latin word for “send.” And the fact of the matter is that as Christians we’ve all been sent. We’re sent with a mission and purpose to share Christ’s love. We’re sent to re-present the life we’ve found in our Lord.
Our mission is possible because of the one who sends us. We’re not just sent by our ambition, or a particular career choice, or a special affinity for a certain kind of work. God sends us, and we can share that sending with many others. We may know our mission through others, as Christ’s mission is passed to us through the hands of many who have gone before us.
Jesus received his mission in the sending of the Father, and he shared that mission by sending his disciples into the world. “As you have sent me into the world,” Jesus prays to God the Father, “so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). It’s all one life, one ministry, one mission, one sending. The basis of Jesus’ mission is the union of love that he shares with the Father. Jesus shares that union of love with his disciples — and with us.
We share the disciples’ missionary calling in the context of our own lives and situations. In and through the world we know — our families, our friends, our work, our neighborhood, our parish, our strengths and weaknesses — we can share God’s life. There’s no need to wait until the time is “right” — when we’ve gone to a special place, or when we’ve got everything “figured out,” or when our circumstances are perfect. Right now, we’re called to mission and sent to the world. Right now, we’re empowered by being one with our Lord. Right now, we’re protected and empowered and sanctified by him. The mission is Christ’s, and ours. We’re sent with a mission.
Look It Up
See the prayers for mission in Morning Prayer (BCP, pp. 100-101) and Evening Prayer (BCP, pp. 124-125). See also the section on The Church’s Mission in The Hymnal 1982 (Hymns 528-544), especially Hymn 530.
Think About It
How do you share Christ’s mission? What gifts do you share in the work of mission? Do you have? How can you encourage others to share Christ’s mission?