How a Glider is Powered to Fly

One of the profound motivations behind our involvement in the Great Commission comes from our identity as sent ones. Bringing the good news of Jesus to a desperate world is not something we have to do, it is a natural expression of who we are. Shortly after he was raised from the dead, Jesus said to a gathering of His disciples, “peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21, emphasis added). Just as Jesus’ identity was sent one, so is ours.

Pam and I live in Colorado Springs in the shadow of the Air Force Academy. On a given day, we see a dozen different military planes making trails through the clear blue sky. But the glider is one we especially love to watch. A glider has no engine and carries no fuel. To take off, a powered aircraft must tow it into the air using a long rope until the glider pilot releases the cord and begins the flight. The glider flies smoothly and gracefully, like a soaring eagle. However, the flight of the glider cannot be separated from its power source. It is completely dependent upon being launched—or sent— by a motorized aircraft.

When we consider our motivation for disciplemaking, it’s easy to think of ourselves as motorized engines— fueled and sourced by a self-sustaining system. We might assume our spiritual disciplines, moral muscle, or earnest intentions are what keep us in flight and on mission. But friends, this is how many believers burnout in the life of faith. Our mission as sent ones is only fueled through our connection to Jesus.  He is the forerunner who has gone ahead, and we are the gliders launched through His power and sustained through His presence.

Consider the words of the Great Commission:

 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV, emphasis added)

All authority—all fuel and power— has been given to Jesus, the Sent One who then sends us. Our authority and power for reaching the world is tied to Christ. This is why He promises to remain with us, saying: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Jesus’ connection to us is what moves us into mission. It is Christ’s power in His people that fulfills His plan.

Unlike the relationship between the glider and the motorized aircraft, our connection with Christ is never severed. We never reach a level of sufficiency that allows our power source to be released, no matter how long we travel in the life of faith. Our mission is corded to Christ!

Two truths undergird our motivation for disciplemaking: First, our identity and destiny is sent ones, created in Christ to soar in the same ways He did during His years on earth. Secondly, our faithfulness as disciplemakers is fueled by the equipping Spirit of God who is available to us every moment of the day.

As we abide in the presence of Jesus, we are sourced with the means and motivation to accomplish the Great Commission. This is His destiny for each of His children. Jesus is always ahead of us, always near, towing, launching, and empowering those He sends.

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