Tuesday, October 09, 2007

En Route or in Rut? -- Jonah

While running along the beach in Oxnard (I am attending a denominational leadership retreat) I began to think about this upcoming Sunday's message, and the special day this Sunday ushers in, and the relationship between the two.

First, I am planning to preach out of the Book of Jonah. A story of callings, choices, cryings, second chances, consternation and compassion. (Could be a great sermon with that alliteration!)

Second, the special day that is coming (Monday, October 15th) is the 45th anniversary of the Felton Evangelical Free Church, now happily known as the Felton Bible Church.

Third, there is a relationship between the two. Now, while my sermon thoughts are still in their formative stages, here are some of my musings. All of us are en route to somewhere or if not, we are in rut. There is no real middle ground for the follower of Jesus. We are either obediently following the Lord's call or we are headed out to sea, and well, a quick reading of Jonah will tell you what that brings.

I was thinking, what if Jonah didn't run off to Tarshish but chose to stay in Israel and be a prophet for the Lord there in his homeland. He could have remained where he was, still being a prophet for the Lord, spreading God's Word to those who needed to hear it. The problem is that would still be disobedience in God's eyes. It's either do what God has commanded, i.e. keep moving God's way, or you're in the rut, and somebody once told me a rut is nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out! Living in that rut has much the same consequences as heading off to Tarshish; a grave or the belly of a whale seem pretty much the same to me!

For 45 years Felton Bible Church has been seeking to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we got it right and other times we didn't. The issue for us is still listening and obeying. It is moving forward in the commands of the Lord. Standing still, being satisfied to remain "close to home," will not cut it in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord has called us, His Body, to love the unlovely, those who live differently than we do, those who may be close to home though culturally miles apart from us. (Like Nineveh for Jonah)

So, I guess the question to answer is this: "What is the Nineveh to which God is sending us now?" For 45 years God has graciously and faithfully dealt with us here at FBC, and His call is still upon us. The call to take the message of the gospel to the world around us, buoyed by the compassion of Christ is still in force. May we continue to obediently respond to the glory of His name.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read the story of Jonah, I can easily relate to this reluctant prophet right up until the time he starts pouting because they repented? Go figure? It’s hard to imagine any current day pastor, evangelist, or lay Christian for that matter pouting because they preached the gospel to a whole nation and the nation sincerely repented? That’s what we call revival and most modern day Christians would be dancing for joy if something like that happened.

I tried as hard as I could to put myself in Jonah’s shoes and it just did not compute so I prayed and asked God to help me understand. And finally as I saw the news report on the sentencing of Michael Devlin for kidnapping those two young boys in Missouri and as I read that the reason he finally switched his plea from not guilty to guilty was because of the overwhelming evidence against him -- including a video tape of him torturing one of the boys, and then as I read on about how he admitted that when he first kidnapped the older one years ago that he tried to kill him and only stopped strangling him after the boy begged for his life and promised to do anything he wanted (sexually) if he would just spare his life, I felt myself getting really angry and by the time the prosecutor was quoted as referring to him as a monster in that article, I was in absolute agreement. Smoke was probably coming out of my ears.

And then it dawned on me that during ancient times – when Jonah was preaching to Nineveh (a heathen nation), some of the things that they did were possibly as uncivilized and barbaric and as sick as what Michael Devlin did. And I tried to picture myself having to preach to Michael Devlin that God would forgive him if he truly repents and that’s when I began to relate to how or why Jonah might have had a hard time rejoicing that the people in Nineveh repented.

gentledove

Anonymous said...

I'll write later, but I wanted to say that you've got a super cool shot of a basking shark there!! Neat-o!

~Dan-o

Pastor Randy said...

gentledove,

Not only do we have to deal with the reality of God forgiving those who have hurt others, or hurt us, or just "bother" us, but we also have to now deal with them in light of that forgiveness.

We could possibly still "hate" them, or at least, "not deal with them," but once they accept and stand in the forgiveness that God offers in Christ, then we are place together with them IN Christ. We not only family, but we are part of the same body. For me, that is the more difficult part. As long as they are "out there" I can deal with them "out there" but once they are saved, then there are "in here" with me and I can't get away from them anymore...the relationship as radically changed.