Jonah 1:1-3, 4:2 | Luke 6:27-28
Are you in or out?
Wouldn’t it be great to literally hear from God? He would say, “Don’t eat that; it has turned.”
And you would throw the leftovers away, point up at the ceiling, wink, and say, “Thanks, Big Guy!” Then you would say, “What should I eat? That was the last food in the fridge.”
And God would tell you, “Go, lift up the couch cushions.” So you’d go, and there under the upholstery you would find a five dollar bill, two quarters, a dime, and four pennies–exactly the amount needed for a churrito and two soft tacos at Bull Taco, including tax!
Minutes later, you would look heavenward and wink, your mouth full of rice and refried beans. Wouldn’t that be great!
On the other hand… What if God told you something you didn’t want to hear? Like, “That kind of intimacy was meant for a man and woman who are committed to each other in marriage.” Would you say, “You know best, God”?
What if God told you to do something you didn’t want to do?
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”Jonah 1:1-2 NLT
That’s what happened to the prophet Jonah. God told him to get up and tell Nineveh they were wicked and they were all going to die. Does that sound fun to you? It didn’t to Jonah, either.
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.Jonah 1:3 NLT
So he did get up, but then bolted in (literally!) the opposite direction. It’s not in the scripture, but he may have yelled, “Psych!” when he ran toward Joppa.
If you read ahead, you’ll see the people of Nineveh taking Jonah’s message seriously, and God honoring their repentance. You’ll see Jonah embittered at their salvation. You’ll also see God very patiently dealing with Jonah’s bitterness.
Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to get a warning. He wanted them to be destroyed.
So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.Jonah 4:2 NLT
Can you see some of yourself in Jonah? Is there someone who God is calling you to love that you would rather keep hating? Are there people who you want to see face judgment?
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”Luke 6:27-28 NLT
Can you accept this assignment? As Jonah said–God is merciful, slow to anger, and filled with unfailing love. So what’s it going to be? Will you say, “You know best, God” or yell “Psych!” as you run away?
Questions for Group Discussion
- When are you like Jonah?
- Is it disobedience to just not do something? Or do you have to do the opposite of what you were told to be disobedient?
- What if God gave you a mission, and you decided not to accept it? What do you think would happen?
Challenge: Give a Mission
This might be our toughest challenge yet. No, seriously!
This is so simple, but trust us–it will be difficult. Your challenge: Give someone a mission, and have them complete it.
It sounds easy, but try it and see for yourself. As you face the inherent difficulties of this challenge, ask yourself these questions:
- Why is it difficult to obey someone else?
- Is communication/listening part of the problem?
- What does this teach you about how you obey God?
- How can you become a better accomplisher of God’s missions for you?