By Nik Ripken
It is easy to glamorize or romanticize being sent out. We celebrate people of faith who hear God’s call and, on the basis of that call, embrace a life on mission.
Incorrectly, we assume that such a call is given to some followers of Jesus and withheld from others. And because of that error, we tend to put those who go on a pedestal. We imagine that they have both a higher calling and a greater chance of reaching spiritual heights.
The reality is quite different.
First, this “command” to be on mission is intended for every follower of Jesus. God’s call defines where we go, not if we go.
Second, it is not always glamorous or romantic to be sent.
When we first made our way into Somalia, we were devastated by what we saw. Even worse, we had no training even to absorb and make sense of what we were seeing. Upon our arrival, we were confronted immediately with destruction, poverty, misery, and hunger.
We were overwhelmed. We instantly knew that we were ill equipped to survive. And we could not imagine how we might minister in such an environment.
Our prayer during those early days was quite simple: “God, get us out of here!”
We found ourselves in a place that was uncomfortable, strange, and dangerous. It wasn’t at all what we had imagined when we thought about being “sent out.” If we had known, in fact, exactly where we were headed, we might have put some conditions on our obedience: Jesus, we will follow You if You take us to a place where we will feel comfortable, settled, and safe.
When Jesus gathered His group of twelve, He invited them into close fellowship. In gathering this group, Jesus called them close to Himself. But as Mark 3:14 makes clear, He called them close … so that they might be sent out.
That same pattern is repeated in the life of every follower of Jesus. Every follower of Jesus is called close … so that they might be sent out. Our devotional life, our prayers, our worship, our reflection on Scripture, our growing life of intimacy with Jesus—all of that becomes the foundation for the work that has been prepared for us.
In a word, the outcome of devotion is mission.
As we draw close to Jesus, we begin to see the world the way He sees the world. We begin to care about what He cares about. We begin to love other people the way He loves other people. And we embrace His passion to share His love with every person in the world.
Clearly, going out on mission is no surprise. And it is not a limited calling intended only for some of Jesus’ followers. It is, instead, the inevitable outcome of being with Jesus.
We cannot, of course, be certain where exactly He will send us. He sent the disciples out to preach and to drive out demons. He sent my wife and me to Somalia. There is no way to know for sure where He might send you. But wherever He sends you, it will be for the purpose of telling people about Him.
Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Then He said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Quite simply, we are invited to be with Jesus … so that we might be sent out. That dual purpose defines all that we are and all that we do.
NIK RIPKEN (@NikRipken) and his wife, Ruth, have served as missionaries for more than 30 years, much of that time spent serving persecuted Christians.