Bringing the Text to Life

The Missionary Posture Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The conditions that Christians face today beckon the church beyond a "business as usual" posture and into a constant "missionary posture" - a genuinely missionary engagement with a world (modern) and culture (western) that is increasingly resistent to the gospel. We stand today like Jonah facing Nineveh and like Nineveh facing Jonah.

Jonah, Jesus, and Paul were all facing the task of declaring an urgent message to an at best complacent, at worst hostile world. Shouldering the unpopular role of telling people they must change their ways was no easier in the third century B.C., or the first century A.D., than it is for us as we prepare to enter the twenty-first century. The rules of engagement continue to involve straightforwardness, tenacity, and a willingness to risk invoking both the displeasure of the powerful and unpopularity with the masses. To proclaim Jesus as Lord today could cause you pain, rejection, misunderstanding, suffering, even death.

Perhaps the most insidious threat to proclaiming the gospel in the world today is that Western Christianity still believes itself to be holding the cultural reins of power and persuasion. Just as Jonah believed that his position as a Hebrew placed him on some higher relationship with God, Western theology thinks it still sees its own face reflected in the culture...

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