My grandchildren do not hesitate when I give them an extra cookie and say, "Will you take that to grandad?". Their wee little feet thumping across the floor, they hurry away to where I have sent them, full of a sense of mission. I sense God saying, "Will you be like that with me?"
Here I come, Jesus. Where are you sending me today?
The incarnation is the ultimate model for sent-ness. God became man, not out of ambition to achieve, not out of a desire to self-actualize, and not out of a need to be independent from the rest of the Trinity. Jesus came because he was sent, sent to us. I want to follow in his footsteps, as a Sent One.
Is that how I see myself?
If we do not grasp our identity as "sent ones" some other identity will take its place. In the post-modern West, identity is formed through expressive individualism and a spirit of defiant independence. “I need to find myself, define myself, be true to myself”. Previous generations were told that the noble narrative is to sacrifice our desires for the sake of the community. This generation is being told to sacrifice having community for the sake of fulfilling their desires. An unprecedented number of career and gender identity options is paralyzing young adults with anxiety. Which Self is my True Self? How can I be sure?
Add to this the modern conviction that we can – and must – be the authors of our own success stories, something that drives us to isolate ourselves from community, to avoid seeking wise counsel, to resent authority figures and reject anything that is not our own original idea. In this manner, we end up with less of an identity and more of an “I-don’t-ity, basing our sense of Self on the rejection of any status quo. We refuse to be led by anyone, including God.
God has no such identity crisis. The eternal "I AM did not hesitate to shed his glory to take on an identity of Sent-ness. For over three years Jesus lived a deeply uncomfortable life, sharing meals, money, miracles and misery. He was accessible to his friends in every way, never aloof or emotionally self-protective. On the contrary, he invited his friends – not once but three times – to both witness and participate in the shattering vulnerability of his suffering at Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46). In every possible way, Jesus embraced being sent.
Am I capable of such self-forgetfulness?
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)