I loved reading Surprised by Grace. There were times when I wish I could just read the book on Sunday morning! Here is Tullian’s lengthy quote that I read yesterday. He said it better than I ever could.
We can’t escape a stark contrast in this story—the tribal mindset of Jonah versus the missional mindset of God. These two mindsets involve fundamentally different values. The highest value of a community with a tribal mindset is self-preservation. A tribal community exists solely for itself, and those within it keep asking, “How can we protect ourselves from those who are different from us?” A tribal mindset is marked by an unbalanced patriotism. It typically elevates personal and cultural preferences to absolute principles: If everybody were more like us, this world would be a better place.
But in a missional-minded community, the highest value isn’t self-preservation but self-sacrifice. A missional community exists not primarily for itself but for others. It’s a community willing to be inconvenienced and discomforted, willing to expend itself for others on God’s behalf. A tribal mindset is antithetical to the gospel. The gospel demands that we be missional, because the gospel is the story of God sacrificing himself for his enemies. Both these approaches are robustly present in Jonah’s story. Jonah represents the best of a tribal mindset, the absolute best. He’s like the trophy-boy for tribalism. And God—ever-gracious, ever-pursuing, ever-compassionate—carries the trophy for mission-mindedness. Jonah runs from his enemies; God runs toward his enemies. Jonah serves himself; God serves the world.
Maybe you read that quote and think, “Amen! But I have no idea how to even begin to do that!” Here is one suggestion: pray. Ask God to open your eyes to opportunities around you. Prayer is no small thing. Don’t you think God wants us to be a community that exists for others and not ourselves? Don’t you agree that he wants us to be inconvenienced and discomforted, and willing to expand for others on God’s behalf? Of course he does. So start praying a crazy prayer and asking God how you can live that out. He may just answer it! When he does, act! God stirs hearts for a reason. He doesn’t just want us to be moved, he wants us to move. If God is stirring your heart tell someone and tell us. We may not have all the answers, but we can help point you in the right direction. I believe there are a number of you who are ready to move. God has been giving you a “holy discontent.” As a church we want to encourage you to go and cheer for you when you do. So let us know how we can help and please know I’m praying for you!