The epistle lesson from yesterday’s Daily Office ends with one of those remarkable biblical promises that seems to have been “worn smooth” by common usage: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Too often, I fear, these words have become a mere summary of an all-too-straightforward transaction: people “put in” a certain form of religious payment (usually involving assent to certain historical facts and/or doctrinal positions – along with performance of specific rituals, like “walking the aisle” and getting baptized); and they “get out” a defined set of religious benefits (usually focused on the assurance of heaven when we die).
Of course, in putting it that way, I’m not trying to dismiss the importance of history or doctrine or ritual. Nor am I minimizing the value of having hope for life beyond the brokenness that we all-too-often see around us (and within us). Still, it does seem like there’s so much more to “calling on the name of the Lord” on the one side (think a life of desperate reliance on Christ; living with trust in His goodness, presence and power; and following joyfully in His path of self-giving love) – and to “being saved” on the other (think freedom from the powers that have held us hostage; power from Christ’s Spirit to experience now a transformed life; and partnership with Christ’s people to live now with transformed purpose).
But all of this is prelude for the very next verse, which begins the epistle lesson from today’s Daily Office:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
No salvation of any kind is going to be embraced without people who understand themselves to be “sent,” that is, without people who know that this incredible message of freedom and hope and love has been entrusted to them so that they can share its blessings with others.
Right about here, of course, is where we need to remember the second “sent” suggested by the title of this post. In the gospel of John, one of the first things that the resurrected Jesus says to his disciples is this: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21). We are the “sent” ones: sent to “preach the good news” (which, I hope you understand, does not mean primarily speaking from a pulpit on Sunday morning – but which does mean proclaiming through our words and our lives every day of the week) so that others can see, hear, believe in, and call upon the Lord who alone can offer salvation (wholeness, hope, forgiveness, purpose, transformation, and yes – heaven).
What difference might it make for us to trust – that wherever we happen to go today – God has sent us there? And how will we proclaim and be “good news” to the people we encounter?