Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Christian on the run


God at work
It’s hard to miss: the Lord is the first to be named in Jonah. The first voice you hear is God's voice and guess whose voice you hear at the end (Jonah 4:11)? Frequent mentions of  Lord in Jonah indicate that God is the central actor.

LORD, translated as Yahweh is used twenty-five times, God, thirteen times, LORD GOD, once, for a total of thirty-nine references about God in a book that only has 44 verses! The atmosphere of the book is quite different from say, Ruth, where the narrator mentions the Lord only at the beginning and the end, or Esther, which makes no mention of God. This is a story about Jonah, but it would be more accurate to say this is a story about God's work in the life of Jonah. 
 
God's Call
Try to imagine the bad blood, the vitriol, the hatred that nations felt toward Assyrians. They were known for violence and terrorism. It is quite understandable that an Israelite prophet would reluctantly accept a missionary call to this city. This would be like asking a Jew who lost his family in the Holocaust to now go to Germany just after the fall of the Nazis and bring God’s message.

We are reluctant
God said, Go to this city, Jonah and preach against it because its wickedness has come up to me (literally, in my face Jonah 1:2). This phrase, evil coming up to God demolishes the argument of God-haters who charge that God is not good, God is not great and does not have the power or inclination to address evil and wickedness in the world.

God is good and great choosing to work through his servants to effect change in the world. Unfortunately, God’s servants are unreliable; they injure God’s fame through sinful and disobedient living. Jonah rose up to flee and run away to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord instead of going to Nineveh (Jonah 1: 3).

We are the light of the world 
You are the only Jesus some will ever see, the song says. Is this true? Jesus said, let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Paul sums it up this way: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Do you get it? God is reaching people through us! What are we doing to share Jesus with our neighbor? Who might you bring the good news of Jesus to this week? Or are you like Jonah, scared, running away from God’s assignment to be a witness to those who are lost and dying without Christ?