I shared at our Commission Prayer days last week three things I observe in the life of the prophet Jonah and priorities I desire to see reproduced in all of the churches I serve and in each member - three things for us to know.
Firstly knowing God. A few years ago my son announced from the back seat that church had been "boring" that morning. I swiftly told him he had no idea just how dull and boring church can get but then reflected that while styles may be lively it is no substitute for the presence of God. There exists within the heart of every human being a shrine reserved for God alone. Idols can quickly accumulate in that hallowed place, gifts God has blessed us with, skills, intelligence with which we soon find our identity.
Our hearts put down roots into these things and only violence can tear them from us: “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). Our God is too small, our appetites too easily satisfied. God wants all of us, intimacy, prayer, worship, a childlike delight in our Father and a refusal to become professionals.
Secondly and in every way linked to the first is a knowledge of God’s word. A God who lives in unapproachable light speaks. Living words that bring God life, conception, birth, small steps growing through to soul maturity. "I speak to you children…young men… Fathers” (1 John 2:12ff).
God calls and we walk - we grow up into Christ through the nourishment of word and Spirit. Ephesians 4 is a pivot point in the letter, to live a life "worthy" of the calling. The Greek word Axios functions here like an enormous pair of scales in equilibrium. Good doctrine must result in good living, calling means walking; a mature life is one of balance. We live in the day of the soundbite, the quote, tweet, where scales are quickly loaded dogma or caricature. Questions designed to box us in, to label and subsequently ignore biblical dialogue and depth. I.e. Driscoll or Johnson, complementarian or egalitarian, charismatic or missional? The pressure increases for the one liner and the church becomes unbalanced, illiterate and immature. Each of us must go deeper and engage in open biblical dialogue if we are to grow strong and mature.
Thirdly we must know God's mission. ‘What is your Commission?’ is the theme for this Westpoint 2013, encouraging every believer to know God's unique kingdom plan for each of his children. Jonah is us and we can quickly run from the cost of discipleship and being true to all God wants us to do for his glory. Of course this means churches being planted, missionaries commissioned to new nations, churches growing.
But our mission is so much more. It involves families, mums and dads, singleness, business, conservation, care, development, education, music, politics, art, sport and so much more. The questions Jonah asks our generation are the three great knowings - knowing God, knowing his word and knowing his mission, the Great Commission.