Ascension Day is just this Thursday. It’s where we remember Jesus’s “Last Will and Testament” to his Apostles.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
These days, we Americans can’t seem to commit to anything. Gone are the days of “company men”, who work at the same job for years. Other things seem to be going that way, like having a “home town”. We’re now living in a culture that has a created a new relationship: the “Starter Marriage.’ We see this in churches. People float from church to church.
They might leave because of a conflict, a move, or because the personality of the church changed. We aren’t leaving because we want to go. We leave because we want a sense of purpose. We are leaving because we want to feel like we were sent out for a reason.
We need some deprogramming before we can understand what this idea of being “sent” means. They say that the average American moves, about once every 2-4 years. We don’t feel the risk of changing locations. We have to separate the idea of just moving from the concept of being sent.
Jesus sends his Apostles to Jerusalem, what’s usual, first. Then, Samaria, what’s unusual. Then the ends of the Earth, what’s unknown. For a lot of us, the hardest thing we can do will be to simply stay, in our Jerusalem and Samaria, until Jesus sends us somewhere new. One of the most countercultural things we can do is commit to staying in one place, even when we get bored or upset.
I’m not suggesting that people should stay in a dangerous marriage or an unhealthy church. However, a case can be made that American culture makes it too easy to leave.
What if we decided that we would never leave until we knew that God was sending us somewhere else? I’m not saying don’t take a job in another city or move to El Salvador. What if, instead of one of us just leaving, we as a community, came around those who were leaving and commissioned them?
About a year ago we my church community said goodbye to a good friend. She had only been with us for about a year, but in that short time, she had become an integral and loved part of the family. She went back to her native country of Kenya, where was going to continue her work for Comfort the Children International. She had been such an important part of our community, and many us loved not only her, but her passion for the children of her country. On her last Sunday, we prayed over her a prayer of commissioning. We prayed a blessing that she would know that she wasn’t leaving our church; she was going to do what we could not: go on our behalf, to spread the love of Jesus to the children of East Africa.
We are going to go other places. What if, we didn’t just leave. What if we were commissioned?