Who We Are and Who We Represent
What Does Missional Mean?, Week 10
by Adam White
“Remember, who you are…” These words awaited us every time we as the youth group at New World United Methodist Church traveled anywhere.
The words came from our Youth Director, Sherry Womack. Sherry would always turn and look at us, sometimes just me directly, and, before we could get off the bus, say “Remember, who you are!” and then we’d respond with a glib symphony of pubescence and reluctance, “and who you represent.”
Sherry’s words have stayed with me though, “Remember who you are…and who you represent!” Whenever I read about Jesus sending the disciples out, like in Mark 6:7-13, I wonder if Jesus felt like a youth director. Like someone trying to impress the importance of what it meant to be a disciple and apostle, someone who is literally ”sent out” on his behalf to represent his ministry, his attitude, his life.
And yet this is who the disciples were, ambassadors of Jesus, given “authority” to act, speak, and heal on his behalf. Interestingly the authority that is given to the disciples comes with some requirements. First, their mission trip packing list was very slim. They were asked to only take a staff, sandals, and a tunic, that’s it! How would they eat, how would they get paid, and what kind of lodging would they find? Oh, right, that’s the second requirement. The second requirement is that the disciples would not rely on themselves, but rather solely on the hospitality of others. This is who the disciples represent in Jesus, a group of people willing to offer healing to a world in exchange for repayment through hospitality. And if they cannot find hospitality, they are told to move on to the next place.
How are we currently serving as ambassadors of Christ in our local communities? How are we doing this as people of faith? As a church? If we are instructed to follow Christ, then these instructions for living simply and relying on others should affect us. How are we representing Christ, not by the merit of our possessions or resources, but by offering depth in human relationship which could serve in healing others?
Who do we represent? A certain denomination, theologian, school of thought, ourselves, or Christ? If we choose to follow Christ we also are choosing to serve on behalf of Christ, which means we are perpetually “sent out” as a people seeking to offer healing to a broken world. And that broken world is told to offer us lodging, food, money, but not authority. Authority is only given by Christ and imparted with responsibility to us in a measure to ensure that there is a reliance on the hospitality of others. In that way, there is a spiritual balance to living on behalf of Christ. This kind of authority that is imparted to us by Christ comes to each of us, regardless of denomination, clergy or lay status, social upbringing, and everything else that serves as a humanly created power structure.
Being sent out means that we place our missional hopes in working together as partners, as communities, as churches to be in perpetual motion of going out to be healing witnesses to each other from our identity in Christ. Our challenge is that, as people and communities of faith, we need to find ways in which others can receive us through practices of hospitality and not just the other way around. I mean, yes, the church needs to be hospitable, but we also need to relearn what it means to be welcomed by others who are not looking for salvation by coming to church. Our witness and evangelism is founded on this, that proclaiming repentance first comes with relinquishing our needs and relying upon others as we find identity in Christ.
Who are we and who do we represent?
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
What role does authority play in your faith community?
What are the bare essentials you need on your own journey of being “sent out” by Christ?
What forms of hospitality might you and your faith community receive from others in your local area?