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Emmanuel Bristol is a family of churches working together to make more disciples, who will plant more churches, to show more people that Jesus is Lord.

Jonah’s mission and ours…

“Salvation comes from the LORD”  Jonah 2:9

One of the lessons the Lord has been teaching us over the last couple of weeks through the book of Jonah is:  to walk away from the God who created us is serious.  

Jonah’s sin led him to the bottom of the ocean.  The Lord is making it clear: sin leads to a death from which we cannot escape.  To live without God is to die without God.  But in His love, the Lord comes after sinners who are on the run from Him.  In His love He reaches down into the depths of death to rescue us and raise us up to new life.  

We live in a city of people who are walking away from the Lord.  But He made them, so He cares for them.  And He alone can save them.  That is why He sends us to call them to turn back to Him, that they too would be saved from death and raised to life.

But where do we start? Let’s remember that evangelism is (like the rest of the Christian life!) something we do together.  So as small groups start up again next week, here are some simple ways that together we can reach out to the world around us…

10 Simple Ways To Be Missional… without adding anything to your schedule
by Tim Chester

1. Eat with other people

We all eat 3 meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.

2. Work in public places

Hold meetings, prepare talks, read in public spaces like cafes, pubs and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture as work or plan. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies – those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?

3. Be a regular

Adopt a local café, pub, park and shops so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this!

4. Join in with what’s going onChurches often start their own thing like a coffee shop or homeless program. Instead, join existing initiatives – you don’t have the burden of running it and you get opportunities with co-workers.

5. Leave the house in the evenings

It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbor. Attend a local group. Go to the cinema. Hang out in a café. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with gospel intentionality.

6. Serve your neighbours

Weed a neighbor’s garden. Help someone move. Put up a shelf. Volunteer with a local group. It could be one evening a week or one day a month. Try to do it with other members of your gospel community so it becomes a common project. Then people will see your love for one another and it will be easier to talk about Jesus.

7. Share your passion
What do you enjoy? Find a local group that shares your passion. Be missional and have fun at the same time!

8. Hang out with your work colleagues

Spend your lunch break with colleagues. Go for a drink after work. Share the journey to work.

9. Walk

Walking enables you to engage with your neighborhood at street level. You notice things you don’t in a car. You are seen and known in the neighborhood.

10. Prayer walk

Walk around your neighborhood using what you see as fuel for prayer. Pray for people, homes, businesses, community groups and community needs. Ask God to open your eyes to where He is at work and to fill your heart with love for your neighborhood.

4 Comments

  1. Part one….

    The book of Jonah often leaves me with more questions than answers. Jonah has to be one of the most successful prophets of the OT. It is one of the few times we see Gods word taught and all the people respond correctly. So why is Jonah so unhappy? Why so bitter in chp4?
    The summary of the book could be made like this; the Lord speaks to Jonah and commands him to go to Nineveh, to tell them of the judgment to come. Jonah decides to go to Tarshish, chp 4 explains why. Jonah knew that the people would turn away from idols and towards God, he knew that because the people genuinely repented to God would be merciful and hold back his judgment. So the picture we have of Jonah is of a bitter man, and man who wants justice. Although the text does not state this it would make sense that the people of Nineveh were having a great time, but Jonah knew, he knew it wouldn't last and that one-day they would be in hell and that pleased Jonah. He thought I can ride out seeing them have such a great time and me having such a bad time because I know my hope is in heaven, I know one day the tables will be turned. So the last thing Jonah wanted was to tell the people of Nineveh about God, why should they have their cake and eat it?

    I don't think there is anything in chapter one to support Jonah being happy about going to Nineveh. Jonah acknowledges that running is pointless, God will catch up with you, and although we see compassion from Jonah for his fellow sailors, (a little ironic) we don't see him explain to them or try and get to Nineveh. From the sailors reaction in v14, I would guess they considered throwing him over board would result in Jonah’s death. So at the end of chp1 Jonah has not only tired to escape, he has tried to commit suicide.

    Chp2 we see Jonah speaking of Gods mercy, Jonah knew he should be dead and this fish was no accident. But in this chapter I don't see Jonah change his mind, I don't see him think you know what, 'I think it is a good idea to go speak to Nineveh'. Jonah is happy to know that God has saved him; I would go as far as saying from Jonah’s words in chapter four that this happiness is intermingled with, it was part of God job description to save him.

  2. Part two…. I presume that chapter 1 should end at v16 and chp2 start at v17. I would also presume there is a gap, a point then Jonah actually thinks he will die, that is explained by Jonah's response in v1 of chp2. So chp2 ends with Jonah needing God to save him and him being (a bit ) thankful. But I don't see this mindset change which was talked about on Sunday, that Jonah now wants to go speak to the people of Nineveh. So when we get to chapter 3 verse 1 and the question why did Jonah go to Nineveh, it is not a ‘silly question’, as the answer can't be because Jonah realised what a fool he had been, why then in chapter 4 is he annoyed.

    He knew in chapter one this would be the outcome, Jonah is not a man who has made the connection between the mercy he personally had been shown by God and the mercy God shows to the people. So that leaves us with the question why did Jonah go to Nineveh, was it out of fear? Was it out of a reluctance that God was going to save them regardless? Was it because God made him? I don’t think the text provides an answer. In chp4 Jonah is angry with God, he speaks as if God is weak, Jonah has not connected the mercy and grace shown to him in chp2, he wants to see the judgment God spoke of in chp1. It is strange because right at the start he knows the God he is dealing with, he knows Nineveh will be saved, he calls on the mercy himself in chp2, but he does not get it in ch3 & 4. The God of Israel is the God of the world.
    Jonah seems to be there to make us think, to make us realise that God has saved us like Jonah, and unlike Jonah we should be willing to tell people about this mercy. We shouldn’t grow bitter when people ‘have their cake and eat it’, we should rejoice that God has shown us mercy and that mercy is to be shared. It’s a book that reminds us to apply how God has dealt with us to others.

  3. Thanks for this. I think your reading of the overall message of Jonah is spot on and when we get to chapter 4 (this Sunday) we will see how Jonah's anger at God's grace to Nineveh betrays his lack of real comprehension of God's grace to him. Commentators are divided as to how to read chapter 2 in the light of chapter 4. For my money there is a notable absence of any real acknowledgement of sin on Jonah's part, but the relationship between chapter 2 and 4 is takes some puzzling over. I think a way through the puzzle is to look at our own hearts. We are all capable of singing of God's grace on Sunday (and meaning it) but that refusing to forgive someone on Monday. Jonah would not be the last servant of God to struggle to grasp God's grace and to be slow to be truly transformed. We'll see more of God's call to care for all people on Sunday. Best wishes, Mike.

  4. Thank you for the reply. Maybe I have got this wrong but your reply seems to agree with what I wrote, which means what was said on Sunday was not right, and the reason that Jonah went to Nineveh was not because of his ‘big fish mercy experience’.

    Let’s just explore what you have said. You landed on that chapter fours application is: we praise God with our lips on Sunday and trust in his mercy and grace then but come Monday we fail to apply it. Well if we draw a parallel: Jonah being in the fish is like us in church on Sunday, so we could say that chapter 2 is us on a Sunday, we may not be in a big fish but we are in a big building, we may not be trying to run from God but we too are bad at delivering a message to our work colleagues, but when we listen to God when we sing of his praises, when we read his word we realise we are saved because of grace. If chapter 2 is us on a Sunday, then chapter 3 has to be us on a Monday, going to a pagan land (work, school, university). But here is the rub, how do you apply that? Jonah does his job on Monday, he applies what he learnt perfectly, so how does that apply to us? We are all good at evangelism Monday? But if that is the application then it does not fit with your reply, your reply says that we fail to apply what we learnt on a Sunday and we often don’t do forgiveness on a Monday. If we keep running with the Jonah us parallel, then we are great at evangelism (forgiveness) on Monday, then how do we apply chapter 4? Is it on Friday we are bitter? If so what made us bitter, is it that God saved our work colleagues on Wednesday? Why would I be bitter about that it just does not fit.

    So this leaves two possible outcomes you could either apply the above, which means we can explain the beginning of chapter 3, and is consistent with what you said on Sunday, but that does leave the bigger chapter 4 problem. Or you could go with what you wrote, which means what was said last Sunday is was a little off the money and the reason Jonah went back was not because of the mercy he received while in the big fish.

    Personally I think you have to land on we don’t know why Jonah told Nineveh, but God did use him and at the end of the day Jonah is a book about God not Jonah, so you have to say how amazing it is, how wonderful it is you can be so far off (like Nineveh) and God can still save you and we can say Jonah’s actions are right, but his attitude is wrong. A slight side note of application would be Gods told you to preach his word, and his word does change minds, even those which seem impossible to change, so we should never scope out the boundaries of Gods grace.

    Back to the main point, if that is the application Jonah just blindly obeyed God, then we could say it is a wake up call for us not to be bitter, not to make it all about us, but to make it all about him. So you could say; if you serve in church or do evangelism at work, God in his grace and mercy can and will use it, but if we fail to apply what we teach to others then we will be bitter, doing something because someone told us will make us bitter, doing something out of response to what God has done will make us rejoice. With that explanation we could land on the reason Jonah told the people of Nineveh was because he was told to, he was worn out and reluctantly did something. I guess that doesn't sit comfortably with us but it seems the only explanation which fits the text.

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