Summary: We can run for God but we cannot outrun God.
Title: Running From God
Text: Jonah 1.1-2.1
CT: We can run from God, but we can’t outrun God.
FAS: N.T. Wright uses the following illustration to "describe how we should avoid [sin] and embrace the way of Jesus":
Think of an animal you'd really be afraid of, whether it's an angry rhinoceros or a large spider. If you came round a corner and found yourself facing it, what would you want to do? Run away, of course. Well, [as a follower of Jesus] that's how you should feel about a [lifestyle of greed, lust, jealousy, injustice, or another sinful pattern].
Then think how you'd feel if you saw the person you loved best in the entire world, who you hadn't seen for years, walking down the street. What would you do? Why, chase after [him or her], of course. That's how you should behave when you think of Jesus and the new life that he is offering you and the whole world.
Adapted from N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Epistles (Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), page 76
LS: Are you running to or away from God in your life?
Now I want to ask you a question. How many of you at one time or another ran away from home. Now this includes the times when you were a kid and ran away to the back yard or down to the creek in my case.
I will bet most of these excursions lasted till we got just out of sight of the house and than we couldn’t decide where we were going to. That is the thing about running away. It is more about the away instead of where to.
Most all of us would come to our senses when supper time came or mom would holler with that voice that meant it was time to stop this foolishness.
Now be honest. Have you ever tried to run away from God?
Has it ever got to where following God put you in a bind?
Maybe you couldn’t do something with your friends if you followed God.
Maybe you figured you could run away from God and do what you wanted, when you wanted with whom you wanted. Sounds pretty good.
God was keeping you from being and doing what you wanted to do. Right.
I mean you know God is there and he is God, but you just don’t like what he is calling you to do. So you decide to be a runner. You run away because you don’t like anyone telling you what you should do.
And once you start running you do something so many of us start to do.
I borrow from Philip Yancey who said, “We confuse life with God. Life when it messes up we blame God.” Not anything we’ve done or choices we’ve made.
We become runners running to something we have no idea where it will take us. We just want to get away from the rules, the people telling us the right thing to do, and the ones who are always ready to tell us when we are headed down the wrong road.
Those busy bodies that always seem to know the right thing to do that so much is not what we want to do.
We become runners from God.
We no longer follow Jesus; we want to run the other way. Don’t know what the other way is but we are sick of where we are now.
Any of you ever felt that way. Life is falling apart. You are just not happy. Not happy.
You become a runner from God. [Screen 3]
Well in this series we are going to look at one of the most famous runners there ever was. Jonah. Now I know most of you know the story of Jonah and the fish. Big fish. The Big Fish that swallowed Jonah. And you may be thinking this is awful hard for you to expect me to swallow that story.
Well I have been raised to believe this story. I believe it really happened. Call me crazy. I’m in good company. Jesus believed in the story of Jonah.
Luke 11.29-30 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.
Jesus believed it and used Jonah’s story as an illustration. That is good enough for me.
And the thing is God is capable of putting Jonah in a fish for three days. Not too big a job for God. He created the earth and all in it didn’t he.