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A New Heart through Missions

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A New Heart through Missions

Jonah discovered that God’s salvation is available to all who repent, not just to the people of Jonah’s choosing. (Read Jonah’s story.) Isn’t that totally annoying?

In Jesus’ Great Commission He used an interesting word: creature. He said, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”[1]

I prefer to preach the gospel to nice people, not to creatures! But Jesus gave very specific instructions regarding the Great Commission. He said, start in your own city (Jerusalem), move into your own country (Judea), and then go to the ends of the earth (the world).

I think the disciples were with this plan. It made perfect sense to them.

Start here in your city. Reach out to your beloved country men. And then eventually go to other nations who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. That sounded good to them! But Jesus didn’t stop there. He included one little caveat, one little wrinkle that certainly couldn’t have sat well with the disciples.

Jesus said, as you are reaching out to your countrymen, be sure to include those people you don’t like. You know, the ones you have marginalized. The ones you have pushed into their own neighborhoods. I’m talking about the Samaritans. Go after them!

In many respects, the Samaritans of Jesus day were very much like the Muslims of our modern day. The Samaritans were half Jewish. They traced their spiritual heritage back to Abraham, and the Old Testament was considered sacred text. They took the Old Testament and changed it. They gave it a new look that included an updated and improved God, one who was superior to the Jewish God, Yahweh. They were close to the truth. They just weren’t close enough.

They lived in the land of the Israelites, but they weren’t included. They lived separate lives. They chose not to associate. Thus they were not trusted and were not welcomed.

Jesus said, REACH THEM! Spend time with Samaritans. Love them. And when they show hate to you, show them love. They won’t know what to do with that.

The world understands retaliation; they don’t understand love. They expect retaliation; that’s how this world works. We pit ideology against ideology. We exert power against power. But Jesus comes along and says, the greatest power in the world, the great antidote to hate is love, not war.

In the story of Jonah, God killed two birds with one stone. He brought a city to repentance and gave His prophet, Jonah a new heart. That’s what God does through missions. Whether that work of missions is something we engage in here in our city, perhaps with people we are not comfortable reaching out to, or across the sea in dangerous places. God changes our hearts through the work of missions.

 

[1] Mark 16:15 NKJV

 

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About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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