Summary: Why is it that we don’t share our faith in Christ more? Maybe Jonah can shed some light on the subject. Learn 5 attitudes that keep us from reaching others from his life.
This Ain’t No Fish Story!
I want to tell you a story this morning about a fish. But it’s anything but a “fish story”.
Most of us can probably remember the story of “Jonah & the Whale” from our Sunday School days, but maybe now that we’re all grown up, we kind of put it in the same category as Santa Claus and Grimms Fairy Tales.
But Jonah was a real person, and his story is literally true.
Jesus Christ himself acknowledged the authenticity of the historical character of Jonah and his experience with the fish in Luke 11:30 (READ)
Then in Matt. 12:40-41
See the minute you begin to believe that the story of Jonah was just an allegory... (a make believe story with a spiritual truth), then you’re also calling Jesus Christ either ignorant, or a liar.
The story of Jonah is found towards the end of the O.T. after the book of Obadiah. If have trouble finding the book of Jonah, don’t feel bad because it’s only 4 chapters long.
When we come to vs. 1 & 2, we find the Lord speaking to Jonah... vs. 2 (READ)
God is calling and commissioning Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, located on the Tigris River. It was the world power of its day.
So Jonah leaves his home town and instead of heading east towards Nineveh... He goes down to “Joppa Grand Central Station”, and buys a ticket for the first boat leaving for Tarshish... going WEST!
Now as we’re going to see this morning... this fateful trip would make the “Titanic” look like a joy ride. And the problem in the book of Jonah isn’t the giant fish... (pause) ... it’s Jonah! Jonah has an attitude problem.
Jonah (as we’ll find out) is a lot like us, when it comes to reaching unbelievers with the message of life.
In Jonah, we’re going to find 5 attitudes that kept him from obeying Gods direct command to tell others about Him.
And amazingly enough... they’re the same 5 attitudes that keep us from telling others about the salvation that God offers them.
In preparation for Friends & Family Day next Sunday, I’m calling them ... 5 Attitudes that Keep us from Reaching Others...
And the 1st deadly attitude is the idea that, when it comes to telling people about God...
1. “God’s calling is DEBATABLE”.
This is the idea that says, “God doesn’t need me, He can always find someone else!”
God was specifically calling JONAH to go to Nineveh. No one else. But Jonah felt that if he refused, then God could always find somebody else to do what he didn’t want to do.
It kind of makes you wonder though doesn’t it? Why didn’t Jonah want to obey God? Why did he go off in the opposite direction?
Well, there are a lot of different reasons, but I think probably the most obvious one is that Jonah hated the Ninevites! He didn’t want God to show them mercy... and he had some good reasons.
Assyria was one of the most brutal and savage nations of the ancient world. They were feared and dreaded by all the other nations.
For example... their methods of torture could extract information from their victims very quickly. They would take a man out into the desert…bury him up to his neck, so that nothing but his head was sticking out… then they’d pierce his tongue, pull a rope through it and let him die in the hot sun with his tongue stretched out in front of him.
That was just one of the little niceties they hatched up for their victims!
When their armies would march towards a city, they would take their entire families with them... and so they moved like a plague of locusts across the landscape... swallowing up whole cities.
They were so feared, that many times an entire town would commit suicide rather than fall into their hands.
So is it any wonder that Jonah felt that they should get what they deserved... they should get what they’d given others... complete and total annihilation!
Besides that, preaching a message of judgment and destruction wasn’t exactly the safest way to approach these people. He might find himself buried in the sand somewhere! So he ran!
Nonetheless, God was calling Jonah to go and preach to these unreached people... and he’s calling for you and me to do the same thing!
In Mark 16:15 Jesus said... (READ) That’s an individual call to you and me. He is calling you & me personally to reach the people that he has put us in contact with. No one else will do.
He has “by design” put our neighbors, and our work associates, and our friends into our lives... for the specific purpose of sharing with them the good news of God’s saving grace.