Have you ever found yourself lost in an unfamiliar city? GPS systems certainly help us in navigation, but sometimes we still have to find our own way (especially if your phone dies). In a new city, you have no familiar landmarks, and road signs are not always clear. This can all add up to wrong turns and wrong directions. Add to that the chaos of running late, and you have a perfect travel nightmare.
However, I don’t think I can imagine a more alarming situation than to find you have inadvertently begun to drive the wrong way on a one-way street. Have you ever done that? At first, you think the vehicle coming directly toward you is the one who is wrong--until it finally dawns on you that all of the road signs face their backside to you. You then make an immediate U-Turn in order to correct your course and, frankly, save your life.
Life requires U-Turns. Some are big. Some are small. We have headed one direction only to recognize, at God’s prodding, that it is the wrong way and we must make a complete 180 degree turn to find the right course.
Sometimes this is due to our willful sin. We chose a path of disobedience to God, and he corrected us. So we turn around and head the direction of obedience. Sometimes this is due to ignorance. We were unaware of how God wanted us to live until he led us by his Word in a necessary U-Turn. And sometimes this is due to his call on our lives. We were doing one thing that honored God, but then he shifted our course in a particular way for his specific purpose. In that case, our U-Turn is a course correction to follow him on mission.
This Sunday we will launch a new sermon series through the book of Jonah. This short book is full of U-Turns. We are calling this journey Reversals: Pursuing Alignment with God because we can all relate to the need for a course change in our efforts to follow God.
In light of that, here are a few themes our preaching team will be highlighting in Reversals:
The Nature of God: His Sovereignty and Compassion
The book of Jonah will help us see a bit more clearly who God is. He is sovereign in carrying out his will in this world, even bringing a storm and a large fish to accomplish his work. He is also compassionate as he cares for some random sailors, an evil nation, and a reluctant prophet.
The Response of People: Our Rebellion and Repentance
We want to trace out the various life journeys in this book, primarily the aspects of rebellion and repentance. This story features several unlikely reactions to God’s initiative. We would expect Jonah, a prophet, to obey God—and yet he goes the opposite way God told him to go (a reversal in the wrong direction, if you will). We would expect the wicked Ninevites to refuse God’s warning—and yet they pursue radical repentance. These reversals will help us look into our own hearts and respond rightly as well.
The Mission of God: Our Presence and Proclamation
We want to appreciate the mission of God which challenges us to be present among people who don’t follow him as we proclaim his message in this world. Jonah was called to leave the comforts and safety of his own people to go and proclaim God’s Word in a foreign land.
The Person of Jesus Christ
Finally, we want to see Jesus in this small book in the Scriptures. All of Scripture points to God the Son, and Jonah is no exception. We want to celebrate Jesus in each chapter and remind ourselves that the reversals we pursue are dependent on the Great Reversal that Christ worked for us on the cross.
I hope you will join us. We have a lot to learn from this little book. What reversals might God be ready to work in your life?