Critique of the world – deserved?

By Dave Henning / August 13, 2023

“Someone might object that the world has a right to rebuke the church, but there is biblical warrant for doing exactly that. . . .  We deserve the critique of the world if the church does not exhibit visible love in practical deeds.”- Timothy Keller

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”- Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 3 of The Prodigal Prophet with two lessons we need to learn from the book of Jonah.  Pastor Keller covers the first lesson today.

1.  Seeking the common good.  People outside the community of faith possess the right to evaluate the church on its commitment to seek the common good.  In the book of Jonah, the sailors sense great peril.  Because their resources fail them, they realize the need Jonah’s help to save them.

However, Jonah does nothing to help the sailors.  As a result, the heathen captain reprimands Jonah, God’s holy prophet.  Thus, the captain rebukes Jonah because he displays no interest in their common good.

But all of us, believers and nonbelievers, find ourselves in the same boat.  Hence, the storm that threatens Jonah threatens the entire community on the ship.  Therefore, Pastor Keller explains:

“Jonah fled because he did not want to work for the good of the pagans — he wanted to serve exclusively the interests of believers.  But God shows him here that he is the God of all people and Jonah needs to see himself as being part of the whole human community, not only a member of a faith community.”

In conclusion, Pastor Keller stresses, Jonah fails to bring the resources of his faith to bear on his fellow citizens.  Consequently, Jonah is not:

  • telling them how to get in a relationship with the God of the universe.
  • relying on his own spiritual resources in God; therefore, Jonah’s private faith does him no public good.

Today’s question: Do you agree that at times the church deserves the critique of the world?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the August Short Meditation, “A more profound Alleluia!”

About the author

Dave Henning

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