I am going to interrupt the "I Object" series this week in order to share a few thoughts that the Lord has given me this week. Here is the question I want you to think about: Has the Church become a shelter on a hill from which we watch the world go to hell?
I am leading revival services this week at a church that is in a state of decline. God led me to preach on Jonah 4. In Jonah 4:5 we read, “Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.”
Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah. God called him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach a message of impending judgment for their wickedness. Jonah, because of his hatred and prejudice against the Ninevites refused to go, fled to Tarshish on a ship, A storm arose, he was thrown off the ship by the crew, eaten by a whale, repented in the belly of the whale, was spewed out of the whale onto the beach, and finally went to Nineveh to preach God’s message. Nineveh repented and God spared the city.
Or, to put it in once sentence, God got Jonah’s goat, Jonah began to gloat, got on a big boat, went for a float, was thrown in the moat, went down a whales throat, sat up to take note, remembered what God wrote, was spewed out with his coat, and finally went with God’s message to promote.
It is sad - no tragic - that Jonah had such a bad attitude about the whole affair. He had experienced the mercy of God when he was delivered from death, yet he did not want the Ninevites to experience the same mercy.
A well known atheist, Penn Jillette of the magic duo, Penn and Teller said it best, "How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that."
Today, we as believers let our attitudes, our prejudices, our fears, our preferences and so many other things get in the way of sharing the gospel with all people. We may not intentionally do what Jonah did (Build a shelter and watch for God to judge sinners) but through our actions, our apathy and our attitudes toward others, we practice what Jonah did!
Most churches are shelters on a hill from which the members watch sinners perish. We don’t want to reach out to that group because they are….black, Hispanic, poor, rich, snobby, pagans, middle class…let’s face it, they don’t look and act like us.
It is time we repented of this nonsense and obeyed Christ by taking his message to the lost. The world needs Jesus. There is no evidence in scripture that Jonah ever changed his attitude toward the Ninevites. Let it not be said of the church of Jesus Christ.
OK, I’ll put away the soap box now. Thanks for letting me vent.