What Is Our Nineveh?
On June 21–22, 2017, the Vestry gathered at Caol Ait Retreat Center in Clifton under the leadership of Father Tim Howe, Executive Assistant to the Canon for Church Planting, to study the book of Jonah, God’s call on us and the question “Why Not Nineveh?”
At the time of Jonah nearly eight hundred years before Christ, Nineveh was Israel’s most dreaded enemy—the capital of the vast empire of Assyria that flaunted its power through violence and cruelty. Jonah heard God’s call to go to Nineveh to preach against it, but he judged Nineveh as unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and resisted God’s call. When Jonah finally obeyed, he delivered God’s message as a summary judgment and flatly declared Nineveh’s destruction, not telling them what they needed to do.
Father Tim led the Vestry in a lively, interactive discussion that included these questions:
- What does Nineveh represent to us individually and to Church of the Apostles? Who are the Ninevites God might be sending us to? Jonah resisted and ran away. What happened as a result?
- What does Tarshish (Jonah’s preferred destination) represent to us individually and to Apostles? Are there ministries we are avoiding because they might draw us away from Tarshish—our comfort zone?
- What might the Lord be saying to each of us and to Apostles right now? Is there anything the Lord has asked us to do that we are not doing? If so, why are we not doing it?
- What happens when nothing bad happens? Has God blessed someone else, but not you? What was your reaction? How might the events in the book of Jonah help us respond with joy when good things happen to others?
- What does Jonah 3:10 reveal to us about the nature of God? “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (niv).
The Vestry discussion touched on personal reactions ranging from rebellion to fear to avoiding uncomfortable discussions with those who differ from us. Keep reading for some lunchtime discussion details.
Who Are Our Ninevites?
The prophet Jonah ran the opposite way from where God was sending him. He didn’t like the Ninevites, a violent people, and didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Eventually, however, he did go.
The question of who the Ninevites are, to whom God might be sending Church of the Apostles, led to a substantive discussion over lunch on Saturday.
We all have dear ones not walking with God, even if they claim to be people of faith. These friends or family members may be clueless about what Scripture teaches or how their lives differ from God’s standards. How do we relate?
We do not run the other direction.
We love. (It is never wrong to love.)
We share God’s Word.
We do not judge but leave conviction to the Holy Spirit.
And we pray for our dear ones, leaving to the Holy Spirit the work that only He can do.