Summary: God calls us to build bridges of love and compassion from our home and church to our community.
Becoming a World Class Christian
-The Story of Jonah-
May 13-15 I attended a church conference with the theme: “The Church of Irresistible Influence.” Superintend Forest Bush and Jerry and Gale Mottwieler from Ripon also attended. Pastor Robert Lewis served as host pastor of the Fellowship bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Pastor Robert Lewis told the story about Prince Edward Island off Canada’s eastern coast. Residents of the Island enjoyed the calm and peace of the Island distanced form the chaos of the real world by nine miles of ocean. There were no bridges to the Island so to get there you had to take a boat or swim.
In 1997 following a bitter and divisive referendum the Confederation Bridge was build connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland of Canada. The bridge was constructed on land and transported by ship and built at the cost of 1 billion dollars.
A fictional character named, Anne of Green Gables – Red-haired, pigtailed, freckled and innocent was the defining symbol of the island. When the bridge was completed people traveled from miles around to see the place Anne of Green Gables lived. Entrepreneurs took advantage of the tourism and nearly true to life fictional character and promoted Anne dolls, T-shirts, potato chips and golf courses, restaurants, a wax museum and other items using Anne’s name.
Some of the Island residents became angry at the intrusions of people from the outside while others welcomed the easy access to the mainland.
Robert Lewis equated the church to an Island. Too often we join the church and isolate ourselves from the rest of the community. Our task is to build bridges of love and compassion to our community.
The story of Jonah is about God’s love to build a bridge of love and mercy to people in the city of Nineveh. God called the prophet Jonah to go and preach to the people in Nineveh a city 500 miles away from his homeland.
God was calling Jonah to become a world class Christian. God calls each of us to become World Class Christians. A World Class Christian is a Christian with a world perspective. A world class Christian has a lifestyle that glorifies God and is living according to God’s mission to reach a lost and dying world.
The story of Jonah describes three characteristics of God. First, God’s Love.
I. God’s Love.
God looked at the city of Nineveh, a city in rebellion against their Creator. The people in Nineveh were living in spiritual darkness. Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria. Assyrians were guilty of idolatry and cruel violence. Their god was Dagon, the fish-god. The people of Assyria were the arch enemy of Israel. Nineveh was located in modern day Iraq, just down the Tigris River from modern-day Baghdad. Can you image telling a Jewish Rabbi to go to Baghdad and walk the streets preaching to the Muslims living there?
God made it clear to Jonah that he loves all people of all nationalities. Jonah believed that His God was a God of Israel and not a God for the enemies of Israel. To Jonah, God created the Jews and all other people just evolved.
We need to remember that God loves people that we believe are our enemies. God loves all non-Christians and wants them to repent. God loves every non-Christian in the Bay area…-- - --People of every language and nationality. God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but that all might be saved.
Jesus looks on the Bay area the same way he looked on people in villages and towns he preached good news to: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-36
When Jesus looks at people in our city he sees lonely people, empty people, people living in fear, and people searching for answers to life questions: “Who am I and Why am I here?” People turn to temporary solutions: drugs, alcohol, sex and anything to fill up the void in their lives. To take away the fear of an eternity without God, people give God a contemporary makeover. They make God into a comfortable pal, a user friendly God who makes allowances for their sin, a nonjudgmental God who sees their good and overlooks their bad.
God’s word is clear – God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus to die in your place. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God’s love was expressed in the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus died on a cross. To follow Jesus demands a sacrifice. Say ”no” to sin and selfishness and all rebellion and saying “Yes” to following Jesus and doing His Will.