Jonah’s World

Heavy-hearted today. Writer Marvin Olasky has posted a sobering article on the World Magazine site titled Blindsided. It’s a post that won’t show up in print until their July 11, 2015 edition. The article was posted early this morning (1 a.m.) prior to the Supreme Court announcement.World-1Olasky shares the heart-wrenching details of a San Francisco church congregation that was established in 1997. City Church began with about 30 people and a pastor whose vision it was to be salt and light in a community that has been compared to the ancient (and evil) city of Nineveh where God sent Jonah, the Old Testament prophet.

If you’re not familiar with the Book of Jonah, it begins this way:  “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.‘” Yes, Jonah was a reluctant prophet and when he heard the Lord’s instructions, he immediately ran the other way. It’s not long after that Jonah becomes personally acquainted with “a very big fish.

church oldOlasky tells about the growth of City Church through the years and underscores their commitment to being a biblically-centered church. Olasky relates the story better than I could so I won’t repeat the details here, other than to mention that the congregation began to shift away from their biblical moorings recently. The press of what Olasky calls “an LGBT juggernaut” unfortunately has rocked their biblical foundation.

Nothing that happened at City Church took God by surprise. Nor did today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex “marriage.” But I’m convinced the events of Jonah’s life are instructive for us today. In short, Nineveh was a large city, a place where evil proliferated (not unlike our 21st century world). Yet the God of Creation took notice! He directed a little man named Jonah to get up off his tush, go to Nineveh and “call out against” them.

Jonah-RohrbacherJonah’s hardly different than many of us today, but he didn’t waste time arguing with God. He just ran away! God needed first to get Jonah’s attention … and finding himself in the belly of a big fish must have done it, for as soon as the fish spat out Jonah onto dry land, Jonah obeyed God (Jonah 3:3).

I love the Book of Jonah because it tells a very personal story of a sinful human being who is deeply loved by a very personal God. God chooses to do a work in Jonah’s life – not just in saving the people of Nineveh (who repented and returned to God) but also in teaching Jonah about God’s grace.

None of us knows what the future holds. It’s easy to suggest because our nation has turned away from God and chosen to celebrate sin, we deserve God’s wrath just as Nineveh deserved it. John Piper shares his compelling perspective in a terrific post here.

Yes, it’s easy to be down in the mouth, forlorn and heavy-hearted. But for Nineveh, events turned around. When Jonah declared God was going to judge them for their evil, they heard his message and repented! Then God in His mercy spared the city!

There’s always hope and those of us who have committed ourselves to living biblically (i.e. trusting in Jesus Christ alone and firmly obeying His Word) should remember God is still working, even when He seems far, far away.

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