Daniel Veenhuis - Lead Pastor
We are meant to transform the world. And doing that starts with encountering God.
When we encounter God, He starts to transform us by the renewing of our minds and the healing of our hearts. It is so vital that we have an encounter before we begin trying to change the world, because it is when we encounter God and His Holy Spirit that we are really enabled to transform the world.
Many people try to change the world in their own strength. Sometimes they fail and sometimes they may succeed, but it is much easier when you have the Holy Spirit and He does the work and we just partner with Him.
The gospel is a story of the world being transformed. Jesus turned the world completely upside down and He calls us to do the same.
I want to look at the story of Jonah. Jonah was a Jew and Nineveh was an Assyrian city and a major enemy of Israel.
In Jonah 1:1-4, the Lord told Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.”
When seeking to transform the world, the first key is knowing your calling.
God clearly told Jonah his calling. Jonah knew without a doubt what God wanted him to do. This is the first step in changing the world. I remember when we were at the school of ministry one of the speakers told us that if you know you are called to ministry without a doubt, then don’t dare have a plan B. In the same way, if you know you are not called to full time ministry, then don’t go into ministry!
I want to be clear so there is no confusion. We all have a different calling. Not everyone’s calling is to be in full time ministry. However, everyone’s calling is to tell others the gospel and to make disciples. How do we know this? Because Jesus constantly told His disciples that’s what He wanted to them to do. And it was the last thing Jesus said to His disciples, so we know it was important.
So regardless of what you are doing in your life, whether it is working at Tim Horton’s, being a CEO of a company, or being a missionary, you are called to heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. Even if you know you are not living in the fullness of your calling yet, start living out your calling right where you are.
This brings me to my second point. We must say yes to our calling.
Do not make the same mistake Jonah did and say no. He eventually said yes, but he made it hard on himself. I believe that when we say no, God will just take us full circle until we say yes to what He has for us.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather just say yes right away to God than be thrown overboard a ship and have to spend three days in a fish like Jonah did. Imagine how bad that must have smelled.
It’s easy to see why Jonah said no at first. Nineveh was Israel’s enemy and had taken the Israelites captive in the past. But sometimes God calls us to do things we don’t want to do.
Then God gave Jonah a second chance. Most of us know the story. Jonah was thrown overboard and a whale swallowed him up. Then after a while, the whale spewed him back out, and Jonah’s life was spared. That experience made him a lot more willing to say yes to his calling.
So, Jonah illustrates my third point, which is if you don’t get it right the first time, repent and obey God when He asks again.
Jonah 3: 1-4 says, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’”
In Verse 5-10 we see what happens. “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. “
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish.’ When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
We are called to change the world and transform cities, just as Nineveh was transformed. The first way we do this is by knowing our calling. First and foremost, our calling is to make disciples. But remember, this can be in any area. It can be in the marketplace, in ministry, sports, government, the arts, and just about anywhere else.
Second, once you know your calling, say yes and give it your all. Do not wait for a platform or a title to start living out your calling. Seek out opportunities, and keep making life choices that are in the direction of where you know God has called you to.
And lastly, keep your heart right! Even if things don’t go the way you want them to, seek after Him and His kingdom first and keep your heart soft to the things God is doing and rejoice with Him as He moves and changes people’s hearts!