January 5, 2007

Are We Running?

If anybody out there is reading my blog, it won't take them long to realize that most of what goes on here is overflow from whatever I've been studying in preparation for my speaking. Right now I'm working through the Old Testament book of Jonah. Jonah was the prophet with an attitude. He was called to go to a city called Ninevah that was home to some of the nastiest people of his era. They were ruthless warriors & sworn enemies of Jonah's Israel. However, God chose Jonah to bring a message of both judgment & hope to the people of Ninevah. Jonah however decided that he would really prefer not to do this thing that God was calling him to. I can hear him now saying, "God, that's really not for me. I mean the Ninevites are some scary people." In our modern terms, this was out of Jonah's "comfort zone". I heard an interesting definition of comfort zone the other day. It was defined as, "a place where God exists, but is not needed". That totally blew me away. Many Christians live & die in their comfort zones. They never obediently follow God out into the unknown, wild places that He so often leads. They are content sitting at church & being church people without really ever understanding what it means to truly follow Christ.

What does that mean for us today? Well, I guess we need to ask ourselves, "What is Ninevah in my life?" It may be that God is actually calling you to do something that most of us would call "big". You know something like becoming a missionary or a pastor, but the truth is that most of us aren't called to that kind of thing. Most of us are simply being called to something that the world would call "small". God is calling us to a real, intimate relationship with Him. For the Christian that means spending time with God through studying His word & going to Him in times of prayer & meditation. For the nonbeliever it means surrendering his or her life to God & accepting the gift of Christ on the cross. After we answer that first question, we have another that we need to answer: "Am I running toward or away from God's call?" Jonah took off in the opposite direction of Ninevah. The sad reality is that many of us do the same thing. We choose to go our way when we know that it is in rebellion to God's call & purpose for our lives.

Jonah is a strange book. Most of us would expect the Bible to portray God's prophets as holy, obedient men, but the truth is that many of their faults are put on display for all the world to see, & Jonah might be the most flawed. Many prophets were reluctant, but Jonah was downright rebellious. Ask yourselves the two questions that I discussed above. I know I have had to ask those questions to myself several times in the last few weeks. If we choose rebellion, we will be able to run, but we'll never be able to hide. However, if we choose obedience, we will see the blessings of God poured out on us as we follow Him.


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