RIVERSIDE BLOG

Post Author: Riverside Church

At Riverside we are on a journey to help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers across Birmingham and beyond. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, you're so welcome in this community.
April 17, 2023
What Are You Running From? | Series Outline

Who is your enemy? Who do you think deserves God’s justice, more than they deserve his mercy? That’s the central question in the ancient book of Jonah. As we journey with him during this 4-week Sunday teaching series, we are forced to take a look in the mirror. And we’ll discover that God is far more merciful than we ever imagined.

‘Should I not care about that great city?’

 

Jonah | Chapter 4 | Verse 11

Series Outline

23 April

Session 1: What Are You Running From?
Venue: Riverside House

The book of Jonah is not about the fish! It’s actually a mirror on our culture and our hearts. It’s about any group of people/person that we think ‘they deserve God’s justice & judgement more than they deserve his grace’. For Ancient Israel, they would have identified with Jonah and would not have wanted Nineveh to repent. Jonah is running from God’s grace and mercy, whereas the (pagan) sailors discover they need it. What about us? Visit blog post

30 April

Session 2: Does God Really Hear Our Cry?
Venue: Riverside House

Inside the fish, Jonah prays. It is noticeable, though, that Jonah doesn’t really acknowledge or confess his sin. It’s almost as if he is more interested in his own rescue, than admitting his error? Maybe he hasn’t quite grasped the bigger picture about how wide God’s grace is.

It is only by the end of the prayer that we actually get to God’s grace – his steadfast love. It’s at this point that Jonah is released back to the land of the living. When Jonah is finally alone with God, and finally admits what God is like, then salvation comes. We sometimes say sorry to escape consequences, rather than actually being sorry. Maybe this is what Jonah is doing? Maybe it’s only when God is all we have left, that we discover God is all we need.

7 May

Session 3: Is Change Possible?
Venue: Riverside House

What does repentance look like in practice? Nineveh was a brutal and horrific enemy (think Nazi’s of the ancient world)…we are meant to identify with Jonah about wanting them to be wiped out. And yet, here in chapter 3, they seem to repent. What is true repentance like? And what would revival look like in our society today?

14 May

Session 4: What Does God Think Of My Enemies?
Venue: Riverside House

This whole book is aimed at those who think that God loves us – our country etc – and therefore is against our enemies. It’s a powerful drama confronting the racism, nationalism, sectarianism, tribalism in our hearts. The Jonah figure is us. The strength of his emotional collapse at the mercy shown to his enemies is striking. And yet, we witness the same tribalism and division every day in world (e.g. on social media) – how do we respond? God’s question, at the very end of the book, leaves us hanging. It’s a question about the posture of our lives, that we all need to ask. Should I not be concerned about that great city?

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Riverside is a church made up of people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences all with one thing in common, our discovery of God and his amazing love. 

We are on a journey together to ‘help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers’. 

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