Read Jonah 1:4-7. People were asked, “What would you give to find love, authentic relationships, community?” They replied, “Everything!” Usually, they don’t think of looking into a lively Gospel church for this. We’re caricatured as, “Narrow-minded, bigoted, lacking in humour, devoid of imagination, incapable of understanding the real world, and occupying a sub-culture normal people would not want to occupy.” Writer and broadcaster Rob Frost admitted, “To be frank, I am deeply disillusioned with what the church is offering Sunday by Sunday. There is a deadness in the ritual, a dryness in the formality, and a growing irrelevance in the institution.” These cries remind me of the sailors prodding Jonah awake.

What God wants is for us all to re-discover our true identity. This was the cumulative thrust of the sailors’ questions to sluggish Jonah, after the crew gave him a desperate, violent shaking:

‘How can you sleep?’
‘Who is responsible?’
‘What do you do?’
‘What is your country?’
‘Who are your people?’
‘What have you done?’
‘What should we do?’
‘Why not call on God?’

Our deafening silence in answer to all of these questions is shocking. Somebody, somewhere must take responsibility for all that’s happened, and the spiritual morass our nation is in. God’s people are ‘salt that’s lots its savour’. The Church, ‘the light of the world’, has almost gone out! God wants us to own up to this, and change. Don’t blame the post-war generation, the drug culture, the Age of Aquarius, Timothy Leary, Dr. Spock, or Dawkins. Doug Larson said, “The reason people blame things on the previous generation is that there is only one other option.” We do carry much of the blame. We’ve mislaid our calling, lost our identity, fallen asleep. The world disdains our bland indifference. Mark Greene wrote, “Christians don’t have a very good image. On TV, clergy are often portrayed as well-meaning, bumbling, absent-minded, slightly overweight, giggly wimps…We’re seen as less free, more unfashionable, more isolated, less sexually fulfilled, more boring, less realistic, less involved in the real world, less happy, less friendly.” (Survey of Newcastle students about Christians).

Ask Jesus to restore the good reputation of Christians and churches. Let’s call on God to revive and renew NT Christianity everywhere!