Jonah’s temperament and character, his situation, his predicament, and the message he shared to the people in Ninevah are all quite similar to what God’s people have in the last days.
The church is entrusted to proclaim the gospel of mercy and judgment as written in Revelation 14:6-12 to a notorious modern-day Ninevah; and many of us are reluctant to obey God’s calling, having reasons similar to Jonah’s. Many of us are running away instead of doing what we ought to do as missionaries. Some are afraid of the big challenges in Bangkok, some have prejudices to the people where God wanted them to go.
By studying the life of Jonah as God’s missionary, we can see lessons that will help us be better workers for Christ in this part of the globe in this generation. What lessons can we learn from the story of Jonah?
1. Don’t run away from God
God has a purpose in our lives. He let things happen because He has a plan for us. Remember that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV). We need to pray to understand His will for us and accept it wholeheartedly (Ephesians 5:17). We need to be listening. It should always be “Thy will be done,” instead of “May this be Your will.”
2. Recognize and overcome prejudices
Who or what is your Nineveh? Despite being the messenger of God, Jonah’s prejudice against other culture and nations persisted. Do not allow ethnocentrism. There are many ethnic groups in Bangkok; we need to embrace everyone.
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Acts 10:34
We have no exclusive right to God’s love. Let God’s love to us be overflowing to others. Share it.
3. Know and embrace our mission
When we join God’s church, we automatically received Jesus’ great commission to His church, that is to “go and make disciples.” We do not need to wait for a call from a pastor or elder, or look for a sign or a miracle in order for us to “go…” There is already a verse, and it is in Matthew 28:16-20 which was written more than 2,000 years ago.
All of us are missionaries. We do not need to go to far places, we can start and practice what we need to proclaim even in our respective homes. Let us not be the ones by whom Jesus will ask this question:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NIV.
If we know the truth and we profess to be Christians, and yet not living up to our message we are instruments for others to blaspheme God. We know that healthy lifestyle is the right choice and if we are not careful on what we eat and do then the gospel we preach is an annoying noise to others.
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4. Know the message. Understand the truth.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we should always be ready to give answers about Jesus especially for those who are asking for it. When people ask us about our faith we should not point them to our pastors, elder, or active laymen right away. We should provide our own testimony and how Jesus worked and is working in our own lives.
But how can we share if we do not equip ourselves and not willing to do it? We can start sharing our spiritual experiences within our family members, and then to our friends. With this we can be better missionaries to our neighbors and strangers.
5. Believe God’s power and grace
God has put us here in Thailand (or wherever place you are in now) with a purpose. We should not be intimidated by the challenges in this urban setting. Every person here in Thailand has a need that only Jesus can answer. We need to be willing avenues of God’s grace. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) must be the fire that should push us to do God’s mission.
The Book of Jonah is an open-ended story, and there’s a purpose for that. God wants us to continue the story in our own lives as the modern-day missionaries. How do we want it to end?
In this sermon by Pastor Abner Dizon, he also mentioned about the “Moses Syndrome” and a short story about a runner-messenger named Ahimaaz. What can we learn from those? There are also other insights that were not mentioned in this article. Please find time to watch the video above and share your insights using the comment box below.
Also, are you aware that you can be an online missionary for Jesus by simply sharing this article with your social media account?
(Photo: Eliel Cruz)