Think about a time when you were convinced to make a significant, positive change in your life (maybe a new career, a different relationship status, a spiritual or health practice). What were the factors that finally helped you make that decision? For most of us, part of that decision was in consulting with someone that you trusted: a friend, a doctor, or a pastor. A friend, doctor, or pastor earns trust by taking time to listen and getting to know your story. This is something that can only be done up close.
The prophet Jonah is called to proclaim God’s word to the people of Nineveh. The Old Testament book of Jonah tells us that Nineveh was huge – so big that it would take three days to cross it (Jonah 3). Jonah enters the city one day’s walk and begins to preach – and – amazingly they listen. Everyone, all the way from the king to the dogs and cats of the empire, repents. Jonah didn’t just set up shop on the outskirts of the city and throw bombs of judgement. He took the time to enter into the city, to see and hear its people, and he was listened to.
It is easy to point fingers and condemn from afar. It is easy to do ‘drive-by’ evangelism, assuming that we know the issues of people without spending time with them. The harder, but ultimately more fruitful course of action, is to enter “a day’s walk” into the lives of the neighborhood and listen to people’s stories. As we continue to seek God’s purpose for Shepherd of the Hill, I can’t help but think we have much to learn from Jonah.
Come and see. Come and worship. Saturday at 5, Sunday at 9 and 10:35.