Read Jonah 1:4-17
I had a friend in high school named Brad. He was as self-proclaimed atheist. Brad didn’t make a big fuss about it. He just didn’t see a lot of evidence that would prove to him there was a God. He also happened to be a really nice guy. Brad was smart and well behaved in class. He was polite to everyone he met. He was also really popular, but he didn’t boast about that either. Brad was just a great guy who happened to not believe in God.
One day the topic of his atheism came up in Spanish class. Andrea, who was sitting in front of us, decided to put in her two cents…
“What!” She said. “You don’t believe in God?”
“No I don’t,” Brad replied.
“Are you stupid or something?” She asked?
Brad told her that maybe he was, but he just didn’t see much point in believe in God. He wasn’t mean about it. That was his view, and he was fine if she didn’t agree with him. Andrea was pretty rude and came off as really intolerant.
I remember feeling completely ashamed by how Andrea treated Brad. In my mind, Christians were the ones who were supposed to be kind and polite and not make people feel stupid for stating their beliefs. Instead of showing love, Andrea had just reinforced every negative stereotype that Brad had about how Christians act.
In Jonah Chapter 1 we find a man of God (Jonah) who is actively rebelling against God’s will. He is running away from his calling. Once trouble comes in the form of a great wind and violent storm, Jonah is asleep while the pagan crew is doing everything they can to save the ship. When all seems lost, the pagans are the ones praying and asking God for help. When Jonah is asked what they should do, he tells them to kill him. Even in the middle of the storm, Jonah (the chose prophet) basically refuses to turn to God. The sailors even try to row back to shore instead of throwing Jonah over board. They are the ones who value his
life. Jonah is trying to throw it away.
Some of the best people I’ve ever met are non-Christians. Some of the worst people I’ve met claim to be Christians. I think these verses in Jonah are trying to tell us something. Just because you believe in God, doesn’t mean you get a free pass to be a terrible person. Likewise, just because someone doesn’t believe the same thing as you, doesn’t mean they aren’t loved and cherished by the God of the universe.
God calls us to a higher standard. It isn’t surprising that the sailors are trying to save themselves. It doesn’t shock me that they end up praying to God. When you are in trouble you will do anything if you think it will help. What shocks me about this story is how the man of God, the special prophet, turns out to be the worst person in the story. His rebellion puts everyone in danger, and he doesn’t really care.
- What can we learn from this?
- What does this say about your own beliefs?
- How do your assumptions about Christians and Non-Christians line up with Jonah’s story?
Day 3 of 8 from the 2015 Mission Discovery Devotional