The Old Testament book of Jonah begins with these words: “The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD…” (Jonah 1.1-3a)
We remember well how Jonah was cast into the sea, swallowed by a great fish and regurgitated on dry land – at the place the Lord first told Jonah to “arise and go.” (The Lord will continue to bring you back to His starting point for you. You will make no progress apart from His will.)
After Jonah lands on the beach…
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD… (Jonah 3.1-3a)
The will of God will not be prevented. You may choose to battle God by trying to ignore His will for your personal life and You may push your own life’s agenda but it is, ultimately, an exercise in futility.
God has told us to “arise and go.” He has told those who name the Name of Jesus Christ to “arise and go.” He has clearly instructed the Church, His blood-bought Bride, to “arise and go.” He commands those who sit in the pews, who sit at home on the couch, who rest on their bed: “arise and go!”
Is any command of God more clearly stated? Is any command of God more consistently ignored?
We begin our day with excuses at the ready: “the world, the flesh, the devil are against me!”
The Word of God counters every argument…
“…Take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33b)
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13.14)
“…Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4.4b)
The problem of the Church is an unwillingness to overcome spiritual inertia. Inertia is, basically, resistance to change, the tendency to do nothing, to remain at rest. Yet the Lord clearly tells us to “arise and go.”
The problem of the church is a lack of yielding to the Holy Spirit. We deliberately choose to remain as we are in our present, lethargic, anemic, powerless spiritual condition. Again, it is usually not ignorance on our part, but choice.
We have yet to experience the power of “Arise and Go.” Selfishness, false security, and satisfaction in the present lull us into believing “I’m OK.” But a Christian must be a selfless person who rests in the security of the Lord, and who finds complete satisfaction in Him.
Jesus is telling us at St. Paul’s Reformed Church to “arise and go.”
Jesus’ Great Commission was spoken to His disciples, to the Christian Church of every generation, and to St. Paul’s: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Will we be the generation of whom it was said: “They sat and surrendered” or will we be the ones who say, “Today I answer the call of my God. Come what may, no matter how inconvenient it may be to my present life, no matter how inadequate I feel to the task, I will take the first step: I will arise and go! In Jesus’ power and in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”