Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Christianity as an institution was not what Christ came to establish. Churches in the New Testament had structure, but it was of the simplest nature, just enough to function effectively and prudently. The movement that Christ established was a redeeming community going out into the world as led by His Spirit offering life to people, life that is also granted to each believer by the Spirit of God.
Some have depicted its organization as the great evil of the church, that the true movement of Christ had no structure whatsoever. But, according to the New Testament, simple organization did exist. Besides, even a rally to offer a counter-type of anti-church Christianity has organizers and structure and network. Organization in the name of Christ becomes distractive and counter-productive when it replaces the value of servanthood and elevates one Christ-follower over another. Christ went to lengths to explain that His people were not to lord it over one another, not to be caught up in power struggles.
Preaching, pastoring, serving, leading, guiding, helping, administrating – these traits that are given to the church by the Spirit of God exist in order to lift up the simplest believers to their true standing in grace, helping them to understand their new status in Christ. If any position or office in church, such as the “office of pastor,” is respected – and it should be – it is because of the grace that it bestows on others, even the “least of these.”
As Christ came to simple people with love and tenderness, as He preached the gospel to the poor, as He healed the sick, accepted the rejected, comforted the bereaved, so He commissioned His followers to go forth in the same spirit, led by the same Spirit of God. Weak, broken, seemingly powerless as the world conceives power, the Church of Jesus Christ shines His light of love into the darkness of the world around us. And through that Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered witness lives are changed.
Margaret Clarkson penned the words to the hymn “So Send I You”
So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for Me alone.
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
O’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world a weary,
So send I you to suffer for My sake.
So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With heart a hung’ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you, to know My love alone.
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition,
To die to dear desire, self will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you,
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, though it be blood, to spend and spare not,
So send I you to taste of Calvary.
As the Father hath sent me,
So send I you.
Lord, let us go as Your people into the world bearing Your message of love. Fill us with Yourself that we may share with others in the power of Your Spirit. Amen.