Heather and I left Westpoint buzzing. Every year we feel the same but this last Westpoint was surely some of the best wine saved till now. The worship, Ark, children’s work, youth, seminars and sermons, all out of the top drawer. We could then add the generous offering, the fun activities, the servers and of course the sun shone every day!
We went straight to Cornwall for a two week holiday and my study for this time was the book of Jonah arguably the most successful prophet in the whole Old Testament! He saw a whole pagan city turn to God!
Rather than list the challenges I felt for myself and us as a movement of churches, I thought a poem might grab your attention.
The Lord spoke to Jonah under his vine,
“Hey there Jonah do you have time,
To preach a sermon to a massive crowd,
Preaching simple, speaking loud?”
“Yes Lord,” said Jonah, “Count me in,
I’m your prophet, your priest and king.”
“Great,” said God, “Let’s now confer, I want you to preach in Nineveh.
Their sin is great their idols proud,
So go now preach and keep it loud.”
“A holiday I think is what I need, if ever to Nineveh I concede,
A ferry to Spain, a well earned break,
Drink rich wine and eat some cake.”
But a storm from God and the sailors quake,
A drowsy prophet is called awake.
“It’s all my fault please do not cry,
Throw me overboard so I might die.
Salvation is found to trust Yahweh,
My life for yours this is judgement day.”
Jonah sinks, through weed and wave,
Then Jaws gulps him to his smelly grave.
Three days he spends in death’s dark hall,
Then resurrection day with second call.
To the city of Nineveh a bleached prophet arrives,
Loud and simple “Three days then everyone dies!”
King and nobles in distress, take off robes and royal dress,
Repent in sackcloth, ashes the Assyrian nation,
Praying to God for his salvation.
But reluctant prophet doth rage and rant,
Under God’s gracious vineyard plant.
A worm devours his green leaved spot,
The sun comes up now Jonah’s hot and bothered,
praying “Please just let me die, under this pitiless cloudless sky.
God you don’t play fair, don’t follow my rules.
Jews are your people the Gentiles fools.
Yet so great is your love and grace,
You reveal to these your smiling face”
A lesson here for our Saviour’s call,
God’s great love for one and all,
And ours the joy of gospel mission,
That’s why we are called the name Commission.
I felt challenged about having a Jonah-like judgemental indifference to the lost coupled with an unaligned faith. I find my head and mouth agree to scripture yet my steps are slow and often divergent. I think for many of us we can believe in a God who is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” and yet fail to believe He wants to use us to take this glorious good news to our towns and cities. We are half-hearted and hard-hearted rather than “all in”.
I want to be known as a leader who is “all in” with loving, worship, obedience, giving, and sharing the gospel and I want to encourage you to be the same.
Who knows, God might just in his infinite mercy sweep through our troubled capital city of London in the coming days so that government and royalty turn to Christ in sackcloth and ashes.
To every Jonah reading this, go again and be all in.