Why We Send People


A case can be made for trying to complete the Great Commission with technology. After all, aren’t the printed page, solar-powered machines that play voice recordings, DVDs of the JESUS film, the Internet and gospel smart-phone applications the fastest, most cost-effective and highest-impact ways to make Christ known?

These are great tools. But nothing is more impactful and effective than the sending of a God-worshipping, Christ-adoring, Spirit-empowered person. When God wanted to speak emphatically and clearly to all people, He sent a person. This was Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23b). “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus was God incarnate, a person God sent to change the world!

God could have led the people of Israel out of Egypt using just a pillar of fire, yet He raised up Moses. He could have sent angels to foretell and pronounce His judgments against the rebellious people of Israel, yet He sent prophets. He could have simply declared redemption, yet He sent a Redeemer to die on a cross. He could have just sent His Spirit at Pentecost, yet He raised up apostles to bear witness to Him and to His truth. When God had an essential message to communicate, He sent a person.

Made in His image, we think and act in the same way. We send ambassadors to other nations. When a soldier is killed, a military representative goes in person to deliver the news to the family. When there is a funeral or wedding, the highest respect is expressed by being personally present. In times of sickness or imprisonment, the greatest expression of concern is a personal visit (Matt. 25:39).

If our desire is to help people understand who Jesus is, why He came into the world and the difference He can make in their lives, what’s the most compassionate and effective way to carry out this Great Commission/Great Commandment work? Jesus emphatically gives us the answer in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He sends His followers, people filled with compassion and God’s truth. He sends them filled with Himself.

Is this the easiest and quickest way to communicate an essential message? No. It’s costly and often involves overcoming national, ethnic, social, religious and linguistic obstacles. Dwelling among people as an outsider is back-breaking, mind-numbing, time-consuming work. Humility, patience, a servant’s heart and death to self are all prerequisites for incarnational effectiveness. Yet if all peoples are to have opportunity to hear, see and understand (Rom. 15:21), people representing Christ must be sent by Him to cross these barriers with the good news.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32). But how can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone communicating to them? And how can they communicate unless they are sent? These questions from Paul (Rom 10:14–15a) show the necessity of sending people. This incarnational model has been God’s preferred method throughout history. And it will continue to be His main method until Christ personally returns.

As I write this, I am in a very dark part of the world. Fewer than 1 percent of the people in this country are Christ followers. I’ve been spending time with international workers sent by Christ through one portion of His Church, our family of Alliance churches in the United States. I see in up-close-and-personal ways the struggle of their incredibly demanding, incarnational work as they learn language and culture. Criticism and rejection frequently stand in their way. Their motives are often misunderstood by people here and back home. They are not famous nor are they rich and powerful in the eyes of this world. They face hardships most people will never know or understand. Yet they are faithfully representing Christ, boldly making Jesus known in this dark place and inviting people here to follow Him.

Wherever we are as God’s people, may we remember that we are like a letter sent from God, “known and read by everybody . . . a letter from Christ . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:2–3). May we be letters that articulate the truth of Jesus clearly, and may we with God’s help keep sending letters around the world with impact for the praise of His glory!

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