Jesus said: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” making it quite explicit that the way God the Father sent his Son into the world has much to do with the way Jesus is sending his followers (us) into the world.
Of course not all parallels will be exact. But shouldn’t we at least ask, “what is it about the way God sent Jesus into the world, that is also the way Jesus sends us into the world?” Perhaps many parallels are possible. Here are a couple:
1. Sent into the world
Jesus prayed “Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Are we startled by the news that our destination is not heaven per se? Jesus didn’t suggest that we are just to tolerate being on earth until we can escape (Gnostic/Platonic/Cosmic-consciousness fashion) into a purely spiritual existence in the heavens. Rather he taught us to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done (where?) on earth (here!) as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). We are supposed to be praying (expecting & working?) toward the kingdom, (God’s rule, government, economy, and society) becoming active here on earth!
Sent into the world! Perhaps those of us whose ministry is primarily in the church need to remember that the church is not our destination either, but rather our vehicle for going into the world. Jesus places his followers into companies (churches) to enable us to go into the world, not to escape from it or just to busy ourselves with matters internal to the organization.
2. Sent in the power of the Holy Spirit:
After his temptation , Luke says that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” After Jesus said: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” he says, “receive the Holy Spirit.”
Are you going into the world (rejoicing?) in the power of the Spirit? How would you know? Jesus apparently didn’t expect to minister apart from the power of the Spirit and doesn’t expect us to either. What experiences do we have the help us to discern the difference between spirit empowered ministry and that which is not?
Is it possible that it was exactly the power of the Spirit that enabled the common communalism where “No one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.”
Most of us preachers tend to imply that this early common-ism was an optional experiment brought on by a naïve spiritual enthusiasm so soon after the resurrection and the Pentecostal outpouring and thus limited in its feasibility to the context of the early church. But perhaps this tendency is produced by our own naïve assumption that private ownership is an essential part (right) of being human.
Might we become disabused of this notion by reflecting on the diverse cultures (both aboriginal and Christian communal groups such as the Hutterian Brethren, were owning private property is not essential either to being fully human or to being sent by Jesus into the world?
So how many of us (will or did) hear Easter 2 sermons suggesting that owning eveything in common could be or should be somehow possible as a not uncommon aspect of spirit-enabled apostolic (being sent by Jesus into the world) ministry?