Tuesday, May 31, 2011
God, R U kidding me? (part 5)
Text: Jonah 1:2, Jonah 4:1-10
Okay, Jonah has preached, and he leaves the city. There are not a whole lot of trees in the area, so he stacks up some rocks and builds to make as much shade as he can. Here, he squats down to watch the city, and if he’s really lucky, they will not have repented. Perhaps God will still judge the city harshly, so he sits to watch the show.
But God has forgiven them, and as he is sitting there waiting for what might happen, he is hot. But then a plant grows and shades him and he says, "Okay this is good. Glad this has happened." But then overnight the plant disappears, it withers away and the next morning it is dried up and it's not of any further value to Jonah, and guess what, he gets really, really angry. God decides to make a little lesson out of this. He tells Jonah, he didn't tend this plant, so he couldn’t be concerned about it because of all of the effort that is gone into growing it. And, he couldn’t be concerned because he valued or and loved this plant. “The reason you are angry is because you are uncomfortable. The reason you are angry is because I have called you here. I have sent you through all of this. Here you are outside of this city where you don't want to be and to make matters worse, you are hot; it’s all just too much.” And so, God says, if you have all of this passionate concern about your own comfort, about all the things that surround your own life, your own concerns… shouldn't I be even more concerned about the hundred thousand plus people who will perish if they don't hear the news of my love and of my judgment?
You see, Jonah is acting out of a distorted theology. It is a theology which many of us adhere to. It says that God is nice to us because we are so important. And so when things don't work out just right, we start getting angry at God. Hey, I am not where I expected to be in life. Things aren't happening the way that I want them to right now. God, what's going on? And God is trying to get Jonah to see that there are concerns bigger than you in the world around you. I think we all struggle with this a lot more than we’d like to profess.
We talk, sing and pray about how important it is to know God's love and forgiveness. We do it all the time. And that's good. That pleases God. But at the same time that we are praying, praising and thanking God for the incredible mercy shown to us, it is very hard for us to sacrifice or do anything uncomfortable so that we can share that mercy same mercy with other people; so that we can serve other people that need to be served, in order to bring the compassion and help of God to people who need that compassion.
Like it or not, this is a hard thing for us to do!