11/04/15 – 313
Our God truly is a God of second chances. And sometimes third, fourth and fifths, especially when it comes to our salvation. We don’t know how many chances the Ninevites had to turn around before the story began, but we can assume they were the way they were as a culture for quite a while. Even if they didn’t worship Jehovah, the God of the Israelites, they knew right from wrong. The story began with God sending Jonah to give them one last chance as a people, as a culture.
Then the story quickly took a turn to focus on the individual Jonah. He should have been living a pure life as a man of God, and I have a feeling that he thought he was good to go in that respect. Yet we quickly find him as a self-absorbed, disobedient, immature bigot. Even through his experiences with the storm, the fish, the Ninevites and the plant, Jonah hung on to that persona.
The relevance of this story for us today is also twofold. We are living in a culture that’s rapidly spiraling into the ground as far as Godliness is concerned. There has always been evil, I know, but I don’t know that there has ever been such a specific, generalized, cultural and governmental anti-Christianity movement in our country and others. From within and without, the church is under attack. Some of the worst damage is done by people who claim the name ‘Christian’ but live only for themselves – like Jonah.
We need to be in prayer constantly for our land and people, of course. But we can’t stop there. The only hope we have of even slowing down the spiral is to stand in the way – stand firm for what is right, even if it hurts. You can’t control what others do, but you can make sure that when you call yourself a Christian, you are doing everything in your power to be worthy of the name. That is simply, to be holy, as He is holy.
If you are living for Christ, you have died to yourself, and the problem of self-centeredness that Jonah had will be nonexistent. Just remember this is something you can rarely judge in yourself. A BIG part of it is that you don’t think there’s anything wrong with you – it’s always the other person. That’s why we need real Christian accountability in our discipleship partners and/or small groups – to help us see and heal from just such things.
As for the ‘Ninevites’ among us who believe they won’t have to stand in judgment if they don’t believe in God? Paul addresses that here:
Romans 2:14-15 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.
Let’s close the story of Jonah with a prayer first for ourselves, that God would always keep our eyes open, place us with a disciple who will keep us accountable and growing in holiness, and that He would always help us to represent Him well in a fallen and falling world.