I just finished preaching through the book of Jonah at The Way Church of Cape Coral. I love the book of Jonah. It’s a book that’s often overlooked as a “children’s story”. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jonah is a story of God’s grace, mercy and restoration. It’s a story of a preacher who was given a second chance. Jonah tells an entire enemy city, of the God of second chances. It’s a remarkable story. If the story had ended in chapter 3, we would have thought it would have been a nice ending. But it doesn’t end there.
Chapter 4 shows us the true heart of Jonah. We see the real reason he ran from God and fled to Tarshish. He hated Ninevah. Jonah was….well… pretty prejudiced. The thought of God saving these wicked people did not sit well with Jonah. How dare God extend love, grace, and forgiveness to his enemies. The very though made Jonah wish he were dead! Jonah even perched himself a safe distance outside the city walls to watch the city burn! A little dramatic? Yep.
The part of Jonah chapter 4 that truly convicted me was the object lesson that God gave Jonah. God wanted Jonah to see exactly how ridiculous he was. Jonah was truly miserable under the oppressive heat. So God made a plant/vine to grow to give Jonah shade. This made Jonah very happy.
God does something brilliant. Jonah 4:7-9 says:
“But before sunrise the next day, God sent a worm. It chewed the vine so much that it dried up. When the sun rose, God sent a burning east wind. The sun beat down on Jonah’s head. It made him very weak. He wanted to die. So he said, “I’d rather die than live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you have any right to be angry about what happened to the vine? I do,” he said. “In fact, I’m angry enough to die.”
Jonah the “prophet” of God was so distracted by his comfort that he loses the importance of people. He was given Grace and refused to allow others to receive the same Grace he had received. Now he sank so low that he cares more about a plant/vine that he does for real people. He is angry about a vine dying….when he wanted 120,000 people to die. Wow. What truly matters?
What did God say? Jonah 4:10-11
“But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine. But you did not
take care of it. You did not make it grow. It grew up in one night and died the next. Nineveh has more than 120,000 people. They can’t tell right from wrong. Nineveh also has a lot of cattle. So shouldn’t I show concern for that great city?”
The question for me, then becomes….what has me so distracted that I miss the lostness of the world? Jonah was distracted by the comfort of the plant that brought him shade. What do I care more about than showing people Jesus? For me the answer is easy. I am distracted by technology. I live for the latest Apple product. I read the rumors, blogs everyday to see what’s coming out next. What truly matters?
If I had to choose tomorrow to give up my iPhone over reaching one person…what would my answer be? In so many ways “I AM JONAH”. How about you?