Summary: If you are looking for the perfect church just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing else going on in the world. Jonah did and look where it got him.
January 12, 2003
Text: Jonah 1:1-17
Subject: Running from God
Title: Looking for the Perfect Church: Part One
There are people out there who move from church to church to church hoping that someday they will find just the right one. It will be the one where everything is just perfect. They sing the songs that they like, the preacher preaches nice little sermonettes and never steps on toes and is always done at 12:00 sharp. Nobody ever asks them to do any kind of work there and they have never been asked to witness to anybody. The pastor has never said anything about tithing. Sounds like the perfect place doesn’t it? I DON?T THINK SO!!!!
I have told friends before (maybe I should say former friends) that if they ever find the perfect church, don’t go there. You’ll ruin it. Even though the church is the institution created by a perfect God to do a perfect work, it is inhabited by less than perfect creatures who for some reason always seem to think they know better than God what is best for the church.
In a museum in Greenfield Village in Detroit there is a huge steam locomotive. Beside the machine is a sign showing the boiler pressure, size and number of wheels, the horsepower; all the details about this wonder of technology. The thing was so large that it seems that it took 96% of the energy created to move the engine alone. Only 4% was left to pull the load. There are churches are like that.
Will anyone ever find the perfect church? Not in the here and now. Will people ever stop looking for the perfect church? I doubt it. Will we keep trying to build the perfect church? Yes, as long as Jesus is building it through us.
William Temple said that the church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.
Today let’s look at a man who thought he knew better than God what the perfect church should be. Looking for the perfect church!
I. Where do you go to find the perfect church? (Verses 1-2)
Conversation between God and the Holy Spirit.
God: "Go speak my word to Jonah."
Spirit: "Jonah? Come on now. You know how he will respond."
God: "I’m going to teach him a lesson." Besides, he’s a whale of a guy. Tell him to go to Nineveh and preach against it."
Spirit: "Nineveh? Jonah hates Nineveh. He’ll never go!"
God: "Go and speak my word to him and then I’ll let you put some conviction on him later."
Even though Jonah knew he was receiving a word straight from God he ran away. He had already prejudged Nineveh. It was a city full of heathens - The capital of the Assyrian Empire. I know that is not where the perfect church is. James 2:1-4, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to this man wearing fine clothes and say, ’Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ’you stand there’, or, ’sit on the floor at my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Often we look at the church with the eyes of man. We perceive what we think would be right. We judge people before we ever consider sharing the gospel with them.
OH, I know how they live. They would never accept it.
We don’t want people like that in our church. OR - They have lots of money. Why would they ever want to hear the gospel? That’s the way we look at things. The way God looks at the church? He desires that none should perish. He is not a respecter of persons. Mark 10:24, 27, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. With man this is impossible; but not with God; all things are possible with God." Jonah looked at the kingdom with a man’s eyes and refused to do the will of God.
II.’What do you do when you are looking for the perfect church? Don’t run away from the obvious answer.
The obvious answer is in the word of God. Jonah ran as fast as he could go in the opposite direction to run away from God. Nineveh was at the far eastern boundary of Old Testament knowledge and Tarshish was at the western point of the known world. (Probably the south west coast of Spain) For most people, the perfect church is the one that blesses them the most - Where they can receive maximum effect with minimum effort.