READ: Psalm 99, Jonah 1, John 3, Galatians 5
It is God’s presence that compels, fuels, and demands mission. We cannot claim to be intimate with Jesus and not be passionately, radically stirred for the nations. To know anything about Jesus is to know that He burns to be glorified by every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, and to know this is a fire of love, for He knows our highest satisfaction is in His deepest praise. The Christian not burdened, prayerful, agonized over the peoples of earth who don’t know Jesus is an incomplete and shortsighted one.
In our folly we would rather flee (abandon, relinquish) the presence of the Lord ourselves than spread it to those we fear or resent.(Jonah 1). Jonah is a missionary expose on enduring human attitudes towards those who are resistant and fierce in their attitudes toward our divine Jesus. Jesus is unwaveringly purposed in His mission, and when we do understand His aims and refuse to join in with those aims, there is an unavoidable loss of intimacy. A tempest in our own soul (Jonah 1:12) and a disturbed heaven. We would rather Jesus continue to be insulted and refused than suffer ourselves that He might be received.
In order for Jesus to increase, we must decrease, and there is an ongoing reluctance within us to become less. Interestingly, we shrink in importance the more people come to know Jesus. The more our disciples know Jesus for themselves, the less they need or notice us. This ought to be cause for celebration and joy, yet flesh does not like to be diminished or redundant. It is even possible that some of our reluctance in reaching the unreached is because the more they are reached, the less we are needed. The more mature the indigenous church, the less necessary the missionary. Sending churches tend to laud and elevate frontier missionaries as heroic, which is counter to what the Spirit intends for them. We make missionaries bigger and bigger; God makes them smaller and smaller.
We often praise, for we long to be praised. We often laud others, for we long to be lauded. The well-intended honor of missionaries is often founded on exemption (if we elevate them, we are released from going ourselves) or pride. Look at how missionary and spiritual we collectively are! God intends for missionaries to disappear. He will not share His glory with anyone, not even the William Careys, Hudson Taylors, or Jim Elliots of the world. As a missionary myself, I plead with you to stop damaging my soul. I was designed to decrease, as were you. We must collectively and increasingly diminish if Jesus is going to rise.