The Mission of God (Jonah 1:1-7)

We do terrible damage to Scripture when we take it out of context. Let me explain what I mean.

Many of you know that there are four words used to describe the story of Scripture:

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  • Creation: One Hebrew word sums up the picture of Genesis 1 and 2: shalom. Peace. Earth was full of God’s shalom, the kind of peace in which everything works according to God’s intention. The world was made for human flourishing, there we could live in joy in the presence of our Maker, worshiping God by loving Him and one another forever.
    Fall: Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule over them. We refer to their rebellious choice as “the fall,” and because the represented all of humanity, their action affects us too. We have–through our attitudes and actions– declared ourselves to be God’s enemies. This rebellion results in physical and spiritual death.
    Redemption: Thankfully the loving Creator who rightly shows Himself to be wrathful toward our sin is determined to turn evil and suffering we have caused into good that will be to His ultimate glory. So the next movement shows God implementing a master plan for redeeming His world and rescuing fallen sinners. In the Person of Jesus Christ, God Himself comes to renew the world and restore His people. The grand narrative of Scripture climaxes with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
    Restoration: The story doesn’t end with redemption. God has promised to renew the whole world, and the Bible gives us a peak into this glorious future. The restoration of all things will take place in two ways. Christ will return to judge sin and evil, and He will usher in righteousness and peace. God will purge this world of evil once and for all. -Taken from “Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope”

So Jonah, like you and I, are living in a story of redemption. Jonah is called by God to preach the Word of the Lord to the Ninevites. Jonah refuses to do so. His hard heart can not deal with the idea that the Ninevites might repent and therefore escape the judgment of God.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”  But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

One mistake we might be tempted to make is that we scoff at just how calloused Jonah was to the people of Nineveh. I say ‘mistake’ because the point is for us to realize that we are quite a bit more like Jonah than we would like to admit.

In Matthew 28 we find that Jesus gives all Christians their marching orders. We are to go into all the world and make disciples. Making disciples is part of God’s mission of bringing redemption to this fallen world. The shocking part of all of this is that we, like Jonah, can live our lives yet avoid the mission of God in a million different ways. We get busy. We are tired. We fail to love our next-door neighbor as ourselves. We think that this great mission is the church’s job and we fail to embrace the theological truth that we are the church.

We need to come clean and admit that we are a lot like Jonah. I know I am. The next step is to get out of our comfort zone and join God in what he is doing all around us in everyday life. Let’s be less like Jonah and more like Christ who saw the crowds and instead of retreating he felt compassion.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore spray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

 

Everyday Life Is Our Mission Field

As the weather turns warmer here in South Dakota we are now able to be outside for more than 5 seconds without fear of freezing to death. This makes me very happy! The warmer weather, besides making me happy, also means that there are opportunities to get to know the neighbors who have been hibernating for the past 4 months.

One of the things you will hear us say here at New Life Church is that everyday life is our mission field. We believe that God has strategically placed us in our homes, neighborhood, workplace, and city to live as ambassadors for Jesus Christ. I wanted to share with you, through pictures, what some very creative people put together in our church foyer to express the truth that we are to live as missionaries in everyday life. I will also share with you some practical ways that you can change the world at the end.

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PRACTICAL STEPS TO TAKE TO CHANGE THE WORLD

  • Pray and ask God to soften your heart towards his lost sons and daughters.
  • Don’t wait for someone else to take action. Decide on a couple things you can do right away and get started.
  • We are, again, dedicating the entire month of July to loving our neighbors in practical ways. We call it “Mission Watertown.” Please be watching for more details.
  • Make your house a place of hospitality. Invite neighbors over for a meal.
  • Put a picnic table in your front yard. Sit outside more and start up conversations with neighbors.
  • Put your grill in front of your house and invite neighbors to join you.
  • Begin building relationships in your everyday life. Slow down. Ask questions. Make time for conversations. God has placed you where you are for a strategic, kingdom reason.
  • Find areas of the city where there are real problems. Financial hardship, broken families, fatherlessness, etc. Roll up your sleeves, get involved and make a difference.
  • Ask your Life Group to brainstorm with you ways that you can work together to make a difference in the Watertown area.
  • Read good books that encourage you to live like a missionary:

17 Of My Favorite Quotes From “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

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Here are 17 of my favorite quotes from “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

Too dependent on the mega church?

Can you imagine the power of the church in which ordinary members knows what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God and led by the Spirit of God? God’s plan to glorify Himself in the church never consisted of platformed mega-pastors, cutting-edge-art, or expensive buildings. The real power in the church is found in the Holy Spirit moving through ordinary people as they carry His presence into the streets. p. 12

Can we change the world from our home?

But what if I told you that you could actually change the world, right from your home? If you desire to join God’s mission but have no clue what that looks like in normal life, we have good news for you. You already have access to the ultimate game-changing secret weapon that will transform the way that you think about your life as part of God’s mission. The secret weapon for gospel advancement is hospitality, and you can practice it whether you live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, or a high-rise. p. 19

Put the grill at the front of the house

I (Dustin) have been amazed by how the simple act of rolling my grill to my front yard (not the backyard) and grilling burgers has effectively allowed me to meet neighbors, hear their stories, share our lives, and point to truth. I’ve never printed flyers or sent out mailers. I’ve simply heated the charcoal and watched people show up. One of the most ordinary things we do every day is eat a meal at our homes. We do this small act with intentionality and usually with other people, and we simply watch the Holy Spirit bring about the significance. p. 22-23

God loves to use the ordinary

If we are ever going to join all our lives to God’s mission to change the world, we need to reclaim all of our ordinary pieces as part of that gospel mission. We will have to reject the notion that something has to be big or unusual to be significant. We will have to view the ordinariness of our lives as significant and allow God to use our homes as a seed to be planted and grown, not something to be discarded or devalued. p. 24

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Our homes are a weapon for the gospel

Thinking about our homes in this way is a wonderfully freeing concept. As it turns out, we have a more fulfilling and rewarding purpose for our homes than using them exclusively for our benefit and comfort. Instead of thinking of them only as a personal refuge, they can be opened as spiritual hospitals for the hurting around us. Instead of being an oasis of self-interest, they can be transformed into a weapon for the gospel, a four-walled tool to wield in God’s cosmic battle against sin and evil. As we do this, we become the type of counterculture that puts God’s generosity on display. p. 24

What in the world do you mean when you say ‘Biblical hospitality?’

The Simplest Way To Change The WorldAt it’s core, the practice of hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” It’s receiving others into our lives-into relationship and, yes, even into our homes. It welcomes Christians as a way to walk in the truth that we’ve been made family through the gospel, and it welcomes non-Christians in an attempt to model and extend the gracious invitation we’ve received from God in Christ. p. 26-27

I’m an introvert so I don’t have to do this hospitality thing!

Half of all people identify as introverts, so if you are one, we realize you may be thinking, Yeah, but I really can’t practice-I don’t want to practice-hospitality because I’m an introvert. It would be too draining. Please do not read this book thinking the message is, force yourself to be an extrovert because of the gospel! Please don’t let your personality type be a barrier to living out a god-ordained calling that is actually tailor-made to suit your personality type. I understand that introverts get the rap that they don’t like people, but that’s not true. We just like people in smaller, quieter doses that our extroverted compatriots do. I have found that inviting one person (or a couple of people) to my house where they enjoy quality time together, have a good conversation, and experience a volume level that never gets too stressful is actually totally my speed (and completely fits the bill of hospitality!). p. 31-32

Hospitality won’t happen by accident

We cannot haphazardly live out hospitality. We must pursue it intentionally, and frankly, it needs to be calendared. Having people in my (Dustin’s) home for a meal or a game night or to watch a big game tends to happen only if my wife or I put it on the calendar. p. 35

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How is social media impacting us?

Though social media is a wonderful tool with many redeeming qualities, it is also a perfect breeding ground for this ability to be “connected” without really being connected in the truest sense. We can craft our images carefully and interact with the carefully crafted images of others, but oftentimes the depths of knowing others and being known are impossible to reach via these online interactions. And even though many of us are addicted to our devices, people are starving for the depth that comes from real, in-person relationships. p. 59

Hold up! I want to change the world by scolding it!

When feeling threatened by the culture changing around them, many Christians assume a defensive posture-and this is the simplest way to not change the world. Many resort to the relational equivalent of yelling at a driver who just cut them off, or they become touchy or overly combative (all in the name of “defending the truth”). This combative, aggressive stance may feel like the best path to stand up for the things that we believe in, but much of the time it fails the “speak the truth in love” test Paul gave us in Ephesians 4.  p. 60-61

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Eating the body of Jesus or eating a burger?

Think about it: are we more likely to convince our neighbors to come to a church service where we symbolically drink the Savior’s blood and eat His body, or to eat a burger on the patio? p. 64

Why practice hospitality in the first place?

By the simple act of opening your door you are joining in on what God is doing to heal the planet and welcome prodigal sons and daughters back into his family. You are turning your home into a wartime hospital where the spiritually hurting can get hope and care they need. p. 67

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What if your house became known as “that house?”

Imagine this: what if your house (or apartment, etc.) became known as “that house” in your neighborhood? What if your home became a little bright spot in your community, that when people walk or drive by your door, their heads turn a little and they start to wonder what’s different about you, because you don’t seem to think about your home the same way everyone else in the neighborhood does? p. 72-73

Um, my house is kinda messy so I can’t do hospitality

In reality, you inviting others into your messy house is actually a beautiful act of vulnerability. It’s letting them see that you are a busy, imperfect human that does not live in a glass house. This is actually more hopeful than bringing them into a spic-and-span environment, because their house is probably messy too. The good news of the gospel is that our homes or our meals do not have to be perfect-we are free to be real humans who have messes and burn casseroles. p. 83

I just simply can’t add something else to my busy schedule!

You don’t need to add another task to your already-busy schedule. Instead, think like a missionary when living out your normal, everyday activities. p. 94

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Get off the couch and go outside

This may come as a newsflash, but your neighbors don’t live in your house. So if you never leave your humble abode, you’ll never meet any of your neighbors. They are not going to bust up in your living room and introduce themselves, and if they do you should call the cops ASAP. p. 97

How do you get to the gospel?

The end goal of hospitality is not that you simply host people in your home as much as you use your home as a place to display and speak the gospel. Paul, who repeatedly pointed us to the practice of hospitality also boldly proclaimed his desire to be valiant about the good news of the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for everyone who believes: (Rom. 1:16). Clearly the aim of hospitality is more than merely inviting someone into our home, sharing a meal and a few good stories, and calling it a night. We are missionaries, after all. Paul reminded us, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Cor 5:20). And pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian…is either a missionary or an imposter.” p. 119