Several years ago, the ministry I worked with sent us a test version of a Bible study to do with college students. It opened my eyes to something I had never seen before in the book of John.
In this gospel, John the Baptist describes Jesus in John 3:34 as “He whom God has sent”. Then John records Jesus describing Himself 37 times as being sent by God. Thirty-seven times! You’d think I would have noticed that before!
But after being described as the One sent by God over and over, Jesus turns to His disciples in John 20:21 and says, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
Jesus is the Sent One and the Sender. And He wants His disciples to see themselves as “sent ones”.
Have you ever thought of yourself that way – as a “sent one”? As someone who has been sent by Christ to represent Him and carry on His mission wherever you are?
Often it seems like “sent ones” need to be missionaries, people who are commissioned in front of a church or a ministry. But Jesus sends all of His disciples to go and make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
I love how a friend and the leadership of my church recently illustrated this concept.
Danielle is a young woman who started coming to my Bible study last fall. As someone who is passionate about Christ and also open and honest about her life, she was a joy to have in the group. Danielle takes her passion for Christ into the workplace. She sees herself as a worker in the harvest there and asks the Lord to give her opportunities to reach her co-workers for Christ.
When Danielle graduated last year, the job she found locally was as a contract worker. Since her contract was up in May, she began looking for jobs this winter. At a point when the process was discouraging, a friend encouraged her to look in all kinds of cities – not just in North Carolina. One of the places Danielle looked was Portland, Oregon. This was because our church sends a team of college students there every summer to help some church plants reach out to their city. In fact, since Danielle’s contract was up in May and her roommate was leading the team, she had already signed up to go on this trip herself.
The Lord ended up providing a job for Danielle in Portland and in another major U.S. city far from North Carolina. As she prayed about which one to take, she decided on Portland because of the connection our church has to a church plant there. She knew she would have a church family as she was far from home, but she also knew she was going somewhere that had a huge need for the gospel.
A couple of weeks ago was Danielle’s last Sunday at church before she left for Portland. The church showed a video of her sharing her story and then commissioned her at the end of the service.
As I sat in the service, I realized that my church saw Danielle as an answer to their prayers. I am sure that as they have sent college students to Portland each summer, they have prayed for people to go live in Portland. They have a heart for this city and to see it reached for Christ.
Danielle saw her decision as being yielded to the Lord as she trusted Him to provide a job for her, being willing to go wherever He wanted her to go and wanting to be used by Him to reach those who don’t know Him.
And so Danielle goes to Portland for a job – and as one who is sent. Sent by Christ and also sent by her church – a church that valued her going as both a worker in a job and a worker in the harvest.
You may think, “I’m not like Danielle. I don’t know if I could move across the country to be ‘sent’.” Well, maybe that’s what God will ask of you, but most likely it’s not. Instead I think what’s most important is how we see ourselves – how we see our purpose. Do you and I see ourselves as “sent” by God into our job, our neighborhood, our community? Do we believe He has a purpose for us there to impact lives and further His kingdom?
Do you hear Jesus saying to you, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,”? If you do, it could change your life – and the lives of those around you who need to know Christ.
To watch Danielle share her story, click here.
Verses in John where Jesus is described as being sent by God:
3:34 6:39 8:26 14:24
4:34 6:44 8:29 15:21
5:23 6:57 8:42 16:5
5:24 7:16 9:4 17:3
5:30 7:18 10:36 17:8
5:36 7:28 11:42 17:21
5:37 7:29 12:44 17:23
5:38 7:33 12:45 17:25
6:29 8:16 12:49
6:38 8:18 13:20
(Taken from a field test version of a Bible study called “The Mission” by Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru)