I heard a sermon about Jonah. It covered the whole book of Jonah and was a really interesting look at events. I think the preacher got most of it right in explaining that God wants obedience from us, and He won’t just accept us walking away from our calling. This is all in fact true but, if you read Jonah and put what you read into action, I believe that it is important to take it in context of the rest of the Bible. What I mean by this is not to forget why we need to be obedient.
Reading passages like this one could paint God as a bit of a tyrant. Do what I tell you, otherwise I’ll make your life a misery. This in fact could not be further from the truth. It shows Jonah as a disobedient prophet who tried to run away; it also shows him afterwards complaining that God actually did what He said He would. This is all true. I would like to show a slightly different angle. If Jonah had embraced what God had asked him to do, and gone out in faith and love, he would have had an amazing experience. I mean, how many of us have gone and turned an entire city away from sin and toward God? Not many, I would imagine. This is the kind of life that God wants for us, He wants us to live this abundant life.
Allow me to illustrate this with a story. It was a good few years ago, probably about 25 or so, and I was a young boy. We (my mum, dad, brother and sister) were at a water park in South Africa. There were various water slides and my sister and I were having a wonderful time going down the slides. It was a case of pay to get in and ride as many slides as you like, so we were in our element! My brother on the other hand was a bit scared, and he wouldn’t go down the slide. My mum eventually got fed up with him, dragged him to the top of the slide, and threw him down (relax, no child abuse). Needless to say that, after the crying stopped, my brother realised that it was great fun and went down again. The next load of tears were when we needed to go home, as my brother was having way too much fun! So why did my mother chuck him down? Was it because she was a tyrant and wanted to see my brother in pain? Was it because she was in charge, and what she said WILL happen? Or was it because she loves my brother and she wanted to see him have fun, she wanted what was best for him? Contrary to what my brother may have thought at the time, it was definitely the third one, she wanted what was best for him.
Have you ever thought about spiritual gifts? I think it is totally genius that the more you use your gift to bless others, the more you are blessed! How cool is that? You never run out of a gift, you can’t give it all away, yet the more you use it to help and bless others, the more you are blessed. Win – win. God is very clever like that!
So here is the lesson… ready? Next time God calls you to be obedient and do something, instead of moaning about it or trying to avoid it, why not embrace it? You may even find that it was exactly what you needed, you may even find yourself more blessed than those you are blessing! The basic teaching of the Bible says put God first, others second and yourself third but, if you do that, you actually end up being more blessed than if you put yourself first. Our God is an awesome God!
Can I get an “amen”?