Have you read the story of Jonah lately? Mark preached on Jonah yesterday, so I was reading a little bit about him again to refresh my memory. The story of Jonah is way too familiar, but most people don’t read the whole story. The end is the most interesting part…
Long story short, God tells Jonah to preach to people he doesn’t like, Jonah says no, runs, ends up inside a fish, gets puked up, go to the people he doesn’t like, end of story…or not. Here is what Jonah has to say after God used him to impact a HUGE city:
Jonah’s Anger at the Lord ‘s Compassion
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
AND THAT’S THE END OF THE BOOK!
After all of the complaining, God helping him to understand the importance of obedience, seeing God change thousands of lives…he’s still complaining! He closes his chapter in history with a pity party!
I am ashamed to say that I have seen that all too often among Christians in the last 20 years. We’ll find the one thing about a church that we don’t like and point that out. We’ll analyze a sermon and pick it apart as if we could do better. We’ll take the time to tell people what is wrong with the system rather than what is right.
Jonah is a challenge to me. If my chapter closed today, what would I be saying? Would I be working toward bettering the system or would I be pointing out everything wrong with it? I have a very critical eye for excellence, but Jonah really challenges me to keep my hands working and my mouth shut!