“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” (Luke 10:1)
What does it mean to be sent?
I grew up in a small town, the kind where it was safe to let your children ride their bikes all over town. The store was only a few blocks away, and there were times when my mom would be working on dinner or a project around the house and realize she needed something from the store and just send me on my bike to go get it. These adventures were thrilling for me. I enjoyed the responsibility of feeling “grown up” and I could also typically stop and get a pack of baseball cards so it was a win-win for me. There is something meaningful about being sent, knowing that you are needed for a task to be accomplished.
Our God is a sending God. In the very beginning of time, in the first pages of Genesis, as God is creating, God creates humanity in God’s image. We are image bearers of God. We have been created to serve as God’s representatives in this place. After creating humanity, God gives all humans a task, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” The first thing God tells image bearers to do is to fill the earth, to stretch out to the farthest reaches of the world, and to be God’s representatives in that place. As humans, we have been sent.
The Bible is full of examples of God sending. Consider Abraham. Abraham is called in Genesis 12 and then sent. Abraham is challenged to go to the land God will show him, and if Abraham obeys, God will bless him beyond measure and through Abraham all nations on the earth will be blessed. Abraham was sent to be a blessing for others. Or consider Moses in Exodus 3 and 4. God meets Moses at the burning bush and sends him back to Egypt to declare to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” The great turning point in the Old Testament is started because God sends Moses to help bring about redemption. Or consider Paul in Acts 9 (Saul at the time). Paul is on his way to Damascus when God sends a blinding light and interrupts his plans. Paul will no longer persecute Christians. Instead, Paul is being sent to the Gentiles to announce the Kingdom is open to all. God is a sending God.
Not all the characters in the Bible necessarily wanted to be sent. Moses tried excuse after excuse to get out of God sending him back to Egypt. He was afraid to go, afraid of what might happen. But God still sent. Jonah literally ran away from God when God sent him. But God chased him down and brought him back, because God had a task for him to perform, to preach to Nineveh. Or consider Joseph, when he was sold into slavery he thought it was just because his brothers were mean. He had no idea, until the end of his life, that God was actually sending him ahead in order to save a remnant and provide food during the famine.
God is a sending God. Sometimes we know why we are being sent and what our purpose is. Often, however, we have no clue why we are where we are. Have you ever wondered why you live in the city you live in? Why you have the job you currently have? Why all of the dreams you designed for your life didn’t come true? I don’t believe God orchestrates every aspect of our lives, but I do think that God sends us at times to proclaim the kingdom.
How would our lives change if we started viewing them through the lens of being sent? How would our purpose change if we recognized our natural calling of being sent? Understanding that God has specifically sent us where we are to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What if we understood our jobs as an outworking of being sent? That our task was not to build a building, take blood pressure, or design a power grid, but instead we were there to proclaim the kingdom is at hand. What if we realized we weren’t coaching our child’s little league team to volunteer, but that we had been sent to love on children and build relationships with parents declaring the kingdom is at hand? What if the reason we have a desire to feed hungry people is because we’ve been sent? What if the reason we are good listeners is because we’ve been sent to listen to hurting people? What if we saw everything in our lives as an outworking of being sent? That we as God’s image bearers have been sent into this world to announce that the kingdom of God has come near. What if that was our primary calling?
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you.” (Luke 10:1-3a)