The apostolic has at times been associated with a hierarchical and controlling structure. A structure which controls and exercises power would lead to one in which people are told where they are going. If that is the model based on heaven it would suggest that when Jesus was sent from heaven to earth he was in some way forced against his will. I prefer to believe that the decision was a result of a family ‘discussion’ and that being sent was as much an ‘inside’ job as far as Jesus was concerned. So too I would suggest is the act of being sent for all of us. As we embrace the fathers vision for our lives we enter into a divine covenant, not against our will but a marriage of two wills inextricably linked and living for the benefit of each other and the fruit of their relationship.
I often reflect on the story told in Luke 15, usually referred to as the parable of the prodigal son. I prefer to call it the parable of the extravagantly loving father. In the case of this story, the younger brother ‘went’ and as a result had to return home, an act which was greeted with outrageous, undeserved and extravagant love. Were that boy ever to leave again, I would expect it to be an act of being sent. Having been fully embraced on his return if he continues that level of connection he will be sent on his next adventure. A mutual sending by a father who trusts him to know who he is and a son with the character to represent the father and the experience of discovering through extravagance how much he is loved and believed in.
Being sent is an act of representing and reproducing. Reproducing can be illustrated in the daughter who is ‘given’ in marriage. Being given in marriage by a father is nothing to do with the giving away of property it is an act of great love and trust. The father giving a daughter is saying to her and her husband I trust you to go and represent and reproduce your family with this man. It is an act of hand over of primary covering, an act of covenant.
As we are sent in an apostolic culture it is a combination of the inside awareness that our being sent is blessed by those we are in relationship with or validated by the principles of those we are influenced/fathered by. Let me explain this a little more. If the teaching and exhortation when I am at church on a Sunday affirms that we are sent, that there is no first and second class ministries then when I am in my office, classroom or other workplace I will have an inner awareness that I am sent, valued, seen and known for my contribution outside of the more traditional career ministry expressions.
To be sent is an act of interdependence, a mutually beneficial and honouring relationship. If my heavenly father directs me, while it is counter to our independent culture it is not built on control but on love, trust and honour. If I believe, which I do, that God is love, that he has my best interests at heart while writing me in to his beautiful plans for eternity then there is no reason for me not to bring my life into submission to a perfectly good God. Consequently as we are to be revealers of the father, then our leadership as being sent ones will lead us to lead in this way and to send and be sent out of relationships of love, divine purpose and the fulfilment of our destiny in relationship with our heavenly father.
Jesus is the sent one and so are we, he models being sent, even to the point of agony in the garden of Gethsemane. As apostolic means in its simplest form being sent, then it is intrinsic to the apostolic that there is a culture of being sent.