Whenever we are fleeing from the invitation from God to be on mission with Him, for any reason, we are literally fleeing from the presence of God.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is the book of Jonah. Jonah describes the condition of the heart of a man or woman who refuses to respond to the invitation of God to be on mission with Him to redeem a very lost world. In the story of Jonah, God ask him to go to a pagan world called Nineveh. Scripture says that Jonah was fleeing from the presence of God by going to Tarshish instead of responding to the invitation of God.
Whenever we are fleeing from the invitation of God to be on mission with Him, for any reason, we are literally fleeing from the presence of God. I have always been curious to know why Jonah would do such a thing. I have come to the conclusion that Jonah possibly did not want to go to Nineveh because it wasn’t his mission field. Instead of going to Nineveh he decides to go to Tarshish. Maybe he was thinking, “Why do I need to go to Nineveh when I have unchurched people in Tarshish that need a church to attend? I know there is a church on every corner in Tarshish, but in fact, they need to join my kind of church.
Why do I need to reach the unreached pagan people of Nineveh who have not heard the gospel of Jesus once when I have people in my own community of Tarshish who have heard the gospel more than 1000 times and yet they have not responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Now, if this is Jonah’s attitude, the scriptures describe it as “fleeing from the presence of God”. Make no mistake about it, for whatever reason; Jonah had made up his mind not to respond to the great invitation to reach the unreached people of Nineveh. I wonder, are we, the Jonah’s of our day, making a terrible mistake in overlooking the invitation to take the gospel to the unreached people who have not heard the gospel of The Kingdom not once?
Could it be that we are fleeing from the presence of God?
If there is any thought that we might be fleeing from the presence of God, how should we respond? When Jonah was traveling on a merchant ship to Tarshish, he encountered a very nasty hurricane. He knew that the storm came about because he was fleeing from the presence of God. To resolve the problem he told the merchant sailors to throw him overboard and the storm would cease and they would all be saved from the affects of the storm. You know the rest of the story, they threw him overboard and the storm ceased immediately. Is it possible that our ministry efforts are not effective in reaching the folks in Tarshish who have heard the Gospel 1000 times because we are not responding to the invitation? Well, just a thought. Maybe our efforts need to be thrown over board. Maybe we need to do what Jonah did when all of his efforts to get to Tarshish were spoiled by a storm and finally by being swallowed up by a great Fish. Maybe we need to do what Jonah did when he spent three days in the belly of the great fish. Maybe we need to look to Heaven and repent of our selfish and disobedient heart. After taking care of business with the Lord, Jonah finally made it to Nineveh and he preach the gospel of repentance to this unreached people group. And you know the rest of the story. The Lord performed the greatest recorded spiritual awakening in the Bible.
Over 120,000 people were born into the family of God.
As we approach the Issachar Summit let us come to the summit dressed with the stomach acid from the belly of the great fish. Let us come with the acid of Repentance for pursuing Tarshish at the expense of Nineveh, the unreached people groups who have not heard the gospel message at least once. By the way, do you remember the merchant sailors who were on the ship with Jonah that was headed to Tarshish? After the storm ceased from wrecking their cargo ship, the scripture says that the sailors put their trust in God and worship the God of Jonah. I wonder what happened when they finally arrived in the ship channel of Tarshish? I am willing to bet, if I was a betting man, that they were anxious to tell the story of how the God of creation save them from the raging sea. I am sure that this message spread across the city of Tarshish like a wild fire and many of the people who heard the gospel 1000 times finally responding for the first time. Would not this be like God to give life to two birds with one stone? It can happen! Jonah, I look forward to seeing you at the Summit in Tarshish. A whole lot is resting on our repentant hearts. Rickie Bradshaw is a church planter and recognized missional leader serving with the Union Baptist Association of Houston www.ubahouston.org
Call to Action:
As men and women of Issachar, let’s challenge each other to:
1. Gather with others to discuss the significance of increasing the focus of reaching Unreached People Groups (UPGs) and to ask them to join you in prayer to repent for our lack of interest in mobilizing the church for the UPG task.
2. Take a look and discover how much (or how little) you and your organization are spending in time, people and financial resources to reach UPGs and the goal of ZERO.
3. Demonstrate your act of repentance and a new commitment to reaching the unreached, by attending and mobilizing other marketplace, ministry and church leaders to attend an Issachar Summit in your region. Find a Summit Near You.
Written by Rickie Bradshaw