" Outward-bound"
The prophet Jonah established a 'commitment boundary' to the Lord's call on him to "preach against"(1)  the city of
Nineveh (i.e., to warn the inhabitants of the danger of imminent divine judgment).  Jonah believed the Ninevites were
not worthy to receive mercy and forgiveness from 'the God of Israel' because they were pagan
(Gentile) in their
religious practice and "their wickedness is come up before Me".
(1)   Jonah can be viewed as an allegory for the belief
that the God of Israel was the exclusive possession of the Israeli people even though they had been called to proclaim
and reveal His message of mercy and forgiveness to unrepentant nations.  Jonah in his self-righteousness refused God's
instruction and "ran away from the Lord"
(2)  to avoid His charge.  'Spiritual nationalism' (exclusive possession of
spiritual things by a people or nation) draws fixed boundaries to isolate others from having access to what is believed to
belong to a privileged group, e.g., 'the truth', 'the true god', 'the means to salvation', etc.  We establishment physical
boundaries to keep certain things out, to keep other things in or to identify ownership 'property' lines.  The
establishment of 'spiritual boundaries' is a parallel process to boundary setting in the natural world.  Various parts of the
present day church are contending with 'issue boundaries' that address differing 'doctrinal' catechisms, inclusive vs.
exclusive practices, certain rites and ordinances, and strategies to maintain the status quo vs. a 'new openness' for
outreach ministries.  The 'boundary laden' religious belief system exhibited by the prophet Jonah (i.e., the unworthiness
of Ninevites to receive God's grace) caused him to completely lose sight of God's purpose, intention and reason for
commissioning him to carry His message to Nineveh.
We need to critically examine our own spiritual boundaries which may unknowingly lurk in our beliefs, prejudices,
mind-sets, vain imaginations and thinking strongholds.  In 2nd Corinthians we are admonished to the "Casting down
imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ".
(4)   Spiritual strongholds will not naturally demolish themselves but require 'the
power of the Spirit to pulling down of strongholds'.
(4)   Our thinking strongholds operate as 'boundary markers' that
often serve as indicators of our spiritual horizons. "Outward-bound" is a nautical term meaning to be heading out, as
toward the open sea. The 'sea of unsaved souls' awash in the world today continues to ebb and flow and remain at the
mercy of natural forces and the unregenerate carnal nature of man.  Until we, as individual believers and the corporate
church, are willing to make a pronounced and renewed commitment to enlarge our boundaries for proclaiming the
gospel (i.e., 'head out toward the open sea of unsaved souls'), a significant amount of humanity alive today
(5) may not
inwardly hear or
receive God's message of mercy, forgiveness and the gift of salvation.
Like Jonah's, our spiritual boundaries can either open new vistas for witnessing or hold us captive to dogmas and "vain
religious imaginations".  For a time Jonah allowed the religious convictions of his day to so subvert his understanding
of God's universal call and offer of mercy and forgiveness that he lost his prophetic vision and sense of purpose.  At
another time Jonah became so concerned with the loss of his own comfort and well being that he totally forgot about
the one-hundred and twenty thousand souls in Nineveh who were at risk of divine judgment.
(3)    Do we ever become
so focused on 'losses and apparent afflictions' that we forget about the 'lost and dying world' just outside our individual
and corporate doors?   God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth".
(6)   Is it not time that
we "enlarged the place of your tent, lengthen our cords, strengthen our stakes"
(7)  in order to make room for expanded
spiritual horizons?   Let us examine the narrowness of our "
willingness boundary" to look beyond the ordinary and
commonplace practices to spread the gospel.  The unsaved world is a 'Nineveh' in waiting for the power of the Word
of God!  Let us pray that any spiritual shortsightedness be removed and replaced with His vision.  Let us not forget
Christ's admonition to Peter ... "put out into
deep water, and let down the nests for a catch."(8)
(1) [Jonah 1:2]  (2) [Jonah 1:3]  (3) [Jonah 4:4-11]  (4) [2 Cor. 10:4-5]  (5)[e.g., 1040 Window]  (6) [1 Tim. 2:4]  (7) [Isa. 54:2-3] (8) Lk. 5:4
amen_ministries@hotmail.com -----------  aamen.org ------------ P.O. Box 27683    Austin,Texas 78755
Jon D. Hannum, Ph.D.
Amen Ministries of Austin