As part of a teaching series I have been working through Mike Frost’s book Surprise the World, five habits of highly missional people.
One of the favourite Bible verses used by missional people is John 20:21
“Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
But have you ever thought about the context of this verse? Here it is set in its wider context (verses 19-22):
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you! After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” 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.”
The disciples are terrified and hiding behind closed doors. Jesus tells them they are sent people even though they are like scared rabbits caught in the headlights of their circumstances.
This got me thinking, is it normal to be a scared sent people? Is being scared just part of what it takes to be a sent people? Being scared is a normal part of life. Psychologists tells us we have a fight or flight reaction built into our psyche. The disciples are scared because their beloved Rabbi had just been horrifically killed. They probably expected the authorities to come looking for them.
The context of John 20:21 tells us a lot of what it takes to be a sent people.
First, we all get scared and hide. Second we need to experience the resurrected Christ, and see his wounds. Third we need to have a sense of being sent but really know the peace of Jesus (apparently fear not is in the bible 365 times), and finally we need to receive the Spirit.
I think of sentness like a fear/Spirit sandwich with a large dose of peace to get us to swallow the sandwich – there is no gulp without the Holy Ghost!
So if you feel scared, you are in good company. If you need peace because you are feeling anxious about the challenge, then you are in a long line of historical tradition. If you feel disempowered and out of your depth, then the Spirit is waiting to be poured out. Jesus wants us to receive because we know we cannot do it, and we need him.
What a relief!