To be guided by the Word
For the redemption of the Ninevehs of the world
Today’s text: Jonah 3:1-10
THE STORY OF JONAH asks us to rethink the challenge we face as we look to share the Gospel with a world that is increasingly indifferent, even hostile to the presence of the Church in the world. In the Roman world, Jesus and the Apostles faced the real-world examples of the challenges Jonah faced in this story. The early church proclaimed an urgent message to a sprawling, usually complacent, occasionally deadly culture. The core issue has not changed: to proclaim Jesus as Lord today could cause you pain, rejection, misunderstanding, suffering, even death.
Yet our temptation is to become a community of Jonahs, unwilling to carry a message to and be among those whom we would see as out of bounds, beyond help, and not worth the effort. It would be better not to get involved—whether out of a desire for self-preservation or a desire to see those with whom we disagree get what they so richly deserve.
The Church is meant to be a missionary society, a bearer of God’s work into the world. We do not simply sanctify what the world deems is best; neither are we aloof and hostile to the world’s real need. We are in a precarious position! The church for many centuries was tempted to pretend that the world understood and agreed with our mission, and that we were a respectable part of a respectable society. A newer temptation (more prevalent today) is to assume that no engagement with the world is possible, or worse, a bad idea. But we cannot afford to think either option is true. We are not supported by Nineveh and cannot pretend otherwise. But Nineveh is included in the bounds of God’s love, and we cannot pretend otherwise.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks