Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so send I you.
The fifth and final stanza of Margaret Clarkson’s hymn, “So Send I You,” expresses the reality of witness and identity with the death of Christ, but also reminds us of the hope confidently stated in the New Testament, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Rom. 6:8).
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, tho’ it be blood, to spend and spare not-
So send I you to taste of Calvary.
There is some nature of Calvary in every act of witness and service for Christ. Not everything we do for God is unpleasant, but in everything we do rightly for Him there is an element of self-denial. If we do not deny self, we will not follow Christ in our spirit. We may seem to follow Him in the eyes of others, but eventually some aspect of self will leak out and “spoil the broth.”
The soul of man is often described as combining the mind, the emotions, and the will in a coordinated action – just how well coordinated they are will depend on whether the life is surrendered to Christ, whether self is on the throne or Christ. But still they work in concert together. In an un-surrendered life the mind will seek to reason its way through circumstances and place its “knowledge” above obedience. The emotions will be over or under sensitive and subject to whims and fears, even elations, for all the wrong reasons and in the wrong directions. Un-surrendered emotions lead toward jealousy, anger, pettiness, impatient rashness, and self-protective reactions.
And the un-surrendered will – My goodness! Where do we start? – will serve or lead with determination, but even if it picks up the prophet’s mantle, though some may be saved and others helped, it will also have a distinct divisiveness about it. Against the backdrop of the arrogance and determination of Saul which had resulted in partial obedience, Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). God had told Saul to destroy all of the animals of the Amalekites, but they had kept the best, presumably, “to sacrifice to the Lord,” or so claimed Saul. But the un-surrendered will cannot understand the paths of the Lord, nor will it choose His ways.
In serving hearts “made hard by hatred,” or lives that have been made unkind because of the sin of the world, we will often experience rejection – even from those we have come to serve. Christ died in love for the sins of the very ones who condemned Him, judged Him, abused Him, ridiculed Him, and nailed Him to the cross. And if we are sent out like He was sent out, then there is our standard – to love like He loved.
How poorly we do this! How quick we are to respond to our hurt feelings, to try to maneuver with our intelligence for some element of revenge, to decide never to be hurt again – this is how the natural man thinks. There is a point to church discipline – “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After than, have nothing to do with him” (Titus 3:10) – but it can only be properly done by those surrendered to God in their hearts. The servant of Christ, who serves and follows in the Spirit of Christ, who is sent out like Christ, loves the hardened, the morally blinded, and even those who chose to remain blind.
Like everyone else, I have failed to perfectly fulfill these standards, and have found that I can only begin to understand and apply them as I forsake myself and seek the filling of God’s Spirit. But this is exactly the Lord’s plan. How often have we been loved by others when we were unlovely ourselves? And if nothing else it is fair play to take our own turn at loving the difficult. But there is more to it than this, for even that thought is of the flesh. We are to taste of Calvary because we have recognized our own ineptness, our own weakness, our own sinfulness – as Paul wrote, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom. 8:18).
To die to sin and self in Christ means to be set free and to live in the love and power of the Spirit, and “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!” (2 Cor. 3:17) We have in Christ the freedom not to serve according to un-surrendered our mind, emotions, and will, but to serve in the new way of the Spirit. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released form the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6).
All of this, however, is mere biblical theology until we claim it by faith, and faith always entails surrender to the idea. I show my faith in a bridge by walking on it. I show my faith in the safeness of food by eating it. I show my faith in Christ by surrendering in my heart to His authority and His life, and by trusting Him to do in me all that He said He would.
The Christian faith is always first and foremost about our relationship with God through Christ. There are intimacies in our hearts we share with Him through sacrificial service, through tasting of Calvary, that we will not experience any other way. When we feel rejection and the hard difficulty of loving those who strike back, we are not alone. He served this way and we can take time to fellowship with His Spirit and find the encouragement we need.
Those who taste of Calvary also taste of the resurrection, and live by and within that reality and hope. This is not mere optimism, but it is life in the Spirit of God, and He fits us for service, for bearing fruit that will last.