[00:00:00] Well, good morning. Welcome to central wherever you are watching from. Or if you're here in the room with me, it's so good to be here. You alive and well you fill in. All right. Okay, cool beans. If you have a Bible, we'll go ahead and turn to Jonah chapter four, Jonah chapter four, as what we're going to be spending our morning together.
[00:00:19] I want to pray one more time for us and ask that God would just move and speak to us in a mighty way. And then we'll, we'll jump in. Okay. Let's pray together. God, we're so thankful for today. We're thankful for this time. And, uh, just to, to get to gather together and sing songs of praise and worship to you, God.
[00:00:38] And then as we continue in worship and giving and thinking about offering of ourselves and then taking the bread and the juice got to remember the sacrifice that you made for us. And then. As we open up your word, God, we ask that by the power of your spirit, will you move in a mighty way? And our hearts in this room and all the rooms that we're in God that you'll, that you'll speak to us, that you'll encourage us.
[00:01:03] That you'll challenge us God. And that you'll bring us closer to who you are. And so we, we know that we need you to do that. And then if you're here, then that's enough for us. God. And so move in this place. We love you so much. It's in Jesus' name. We pray. Amen Jonah chapter four. So we've made it to the end of this little story in Jonah.
[00:01:25] And if you're anything like me, I grew up in the church and it was like, we have Noah in the Ark. We have Jonah in the whale, we have some commandments or something like that. And then we have Jesus. And so let's just move on. Right. And so, but this story, there's a lot more to it than. Fish that swallowed a guy and he was alive in his belly for a few days.
[00:01:44] I've been thinking a lot about Jonah chapter four, because I had to write a sermon for it, for my job. And so here we are. But as I've been thinking about this part of the story, there's a certain idea that I can't get out of my brain. Like I've been trying to read Jonah for like, what is this, what does this mean?
[00:02:00] How do we finish out this story? And there's this, this idea. Theme that I can't get out of my head. There's a million different ways to articulate this idea or this theme. And I'm just going to give you a few examples that might be familiar to you. Philosopher and songwriter and musical icon. Michael Jackson would say it this way.
[00:02:21] I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clear if they want to make the world a better place. Take a look at yourself and make a change. That was a little early for that, but we're okay. We're going to make it. Your, your grandma probably had a sign somewhere in her kitchen that had a similar idea that said something like, be the change you want to see in the world, which I think was the Gandhi quote before hobby lobby hijacked it.
[00:02:48] And so, but, but it's this amazing idea. I don't know where you are, but like I know for a fact you've been somewhere and there's been a pillow with that stitched on it. Be the change, you know, like, okay, got it. But I love this. I love this. Because it's so much easier for us to, to see the things happening in the world or in our culture.
[00:03:07] And we just kind of look out of our windows and notice that everything seems like it's on fire and rather than engage in the mess, what do we do? We kind of close the blinds and hole ourselves up into our homes like you. That seems messy. I don't want to get involved. It's so much easier not to engage.
[00:03:27] It's so much easier to just kind of blame culture, blame politics, or blame, religion, et cetera. But this call to be the change that we want to see to actually jump in and to get involved. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome who were facing incredible adversity. We have it in the book of Romans in eight, Romans eight verse 19.
[00:03:51] I say the same idea this way, the creation waits an eager expectation for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed that creation is waiting for us to get off of our butts, to jump into what we're seeing around us. It's waiting for us to be revealed for us to get involved. We have to take responsibility for our role in all this.
[00:04:18] I really. We don't just get to sit and pout about the realities that we're seeing in the world around us. We have to take responsibility. And I think that the story of Jonah and a lot of ways is a story about what happens when we run from the responsibility that God has called us into. When we run from the people, when we run from the places that God has sent us to Jonah is a story about what happens when we run the opposite.
[00:04:45] Obviously Jonah quite literally ran as far away from where God called him as you. If you were with us a couple of weeks ago, pastor Cal laid it out for us that God's like, Hey, go to Nineveh. And he's like, where's that Northeast? Cool. Go in Southwest. Get out of here. Right. I'm going to go to Tarshish as far away from Nineveh as I can go.
[00:05:05] And then the fish happens and then Jonah gets back on course sort of cause he gets thrown up on course. And then he reluctantly preaches to the Ninevites and they experienced this incredible life. And it's easy for us to look at this story of Jonah. It's easy for me to look at the story of Jonah and go, why wouldn't he just listen to God in the first place?
[00:05:25] Why, why, why did he run for so long? Why did he try to take it into his own hands for so long? And it's easy to kind of critique Jonah from a distance, but then I look at me, I look at us, I look at some of the people and the places that it seems like God is calling us into. I feel like we're more similar than we would care to admit.
[00:05:48] And as we finish out this story today in Jonah four, we're going to see that the responsibility is on us. Not that the good news is about us. Thank God. Not that there's anything in me that can save somebody, but we're the transporter of this good news. We're the hands and feet by which this good news of Jesus is going to spread.
[00:06:08] Throughout the world. And if we continue to close the blinds and shut ourselves off from the world around us, this is how it works. If you don't open your mouth, no one hears anything. If you don't get out of your door and move, no, one's going to see anything. I think the responsibilities on, see this, isn't a story about a fish.
[00:06:26] This is a story about you. And this is a story about. There's a rapper named Andy Mineo that has a line in one of his songs that I haven't been able to get out of my head. And I want to put this in your head to help frame this time a little bit together. He asks a question and one of his songs that I love, he says, what if we're the ones that were waiting.
[00:06:48] What if we're the ones that we're waiting on as we look around and it becomes so easy for us to point the finger at somebody or something else. What if actually we're the ones that we're waiting on? What happens when we run from our responsibility? Let's jump in Jonah chapter four. We're going to start in verse.
[00:07:10] It says this, but Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord. Oh Lord, is this not what I said? When I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate. God slow to anger and abounding in love a God who relents from sending calamity now.
[00:07:31] Oh Lord, take away my life for it's better for me to die than to. And look at God's response. I love this, but the Lord replied, have you any right to be. Have you any right to be angry? So Jonah is so mad here. Remember he's mad because God had mercy on the Ninevite people, Jonah preaches to Nineveh and everybody repents of their wickedness and their sin and they, and they kind of fall on their knees before God and confess that.
[00:08:00] Yeah, we've been wicked. We've been trying to do things on our own and Jonah preaches this message, like half message to be fair. And the Ninevites repent, even the animals. Which is insane. Like what does that even mean? I don't know, but the animals repent, but Jonah doesn't celebrate. He's not glad that God's love and mercy and grace are abundant.
[00:08:23] He's mad at God for forgiving them. The first thing that we learn that happens when we run from responsibility is that we run toward. When we run from responsibility, we run toward hatred. Jonah has so much hate in his heart for these people that he wants to die because God has forgiven them and given them another chance.
[00:08:46] And when we run from our responsibility, I think we can do the same thing. We choose to hate who God loves and it's causing us to miss out on so much of what God has for us. And so much of what God wants to use us to do. Let's see, I think it's so easy to miss who God is calling us to because we're so quick to count people out.
[00:09:10] We're so quick to write people off and to not give them a chance and to discard them. Because honestly, I think we're so quick to count ourselves out, man, I've gone too far. I've messed up too much. I'm not the right, whatever. Fill in the blank. I'm too much of that or not enough. This. And so surely God doesn't love me.
[00:09:29] And then we project that on people that aren't like us, that don't think like us, that don't vote like us, that don't look like us. And we're way quicker to count people out than God is. That's what the story of Jonah teaches us. We choose to hate who God loves. Jonah is greatly displeased because the wrong people found.
[00:09:52] And if I'm just being honest, when I hear or experience, or God helped me participate in some of the division right now, between Christian people, not the culture, the division between us. I think we might act the same way that Jonah did in this. Because when we run from responsibility, we run towards hatred, a few different things.
[00:10:14] I want to just quickly unpack about this idea of hate number one. It's easy to hate people who are far from you. It's easy to hate people who are far from you. I think so much of the human experience and so much of this eternal life that Jesus is inviting us into is realizing that really no one is far from us.
[00:10:34] Definitely not. As far as we think. That the more and more we get to know people. The more we interact with people, especially people that aren't like us. The more we find that we actually have a lot more in common than we thought there's a lot more that unifies us than divides us. Right. But it's easy to hate people who are far from us.
[00:10:52] There's a band that I love called bony veer and their latest album was titled. I comma. I, if you can imagine that in your brain lowercase, I comma I, and it's a really interesting title to an album. And I was listening to an interview with their lead singer. It's kind of talking about what that meant to them.
[00:11:10] And if you'll indulge me, this is a little bit, it's not super polished, cause it was an interview. But Justin Vernon is the lead singer of this band. And he said, this is what that title meant. He says we can never not be all of us. We're always sharing in this moment in time, right here. And so it's really hard to separate and to really try to decipher what one person really is, because you don't really have one person without the other.
[00:11:36] And that to me seems like sacred math for figuring out our problems as human beings. Just understanding that there's always that person on the other side of the equation, that we're kind of responsible for. So when we see people as far away from us, it's easy to categorize them or generalize about them and put them into these like clean and tidy little boxes that we've made for them.
[00:12:02] And these labels. And we've kind of made up our mind. Right. But when we see the humanity in them, when we see the us Snus and everybody that we interact with, it gets a lot harder to hate them. When we can realize that everybody we interact with is just another eye. On the other side of that comma from us, they don't seem so far away all of a sudden.
[00:12:22] And I love this because I think God is calling us to be close range. I think he's calling us to be close range. He's calling us to love people who believe differently than we do. To love the people that he loves to see the humanity in everybody that we come across. When we keep people at a distance, just like Jonah, we miss out on so much of what God is calling us to.
[00:12:48] And just like Jonah, when we allow our hate to distance us from others, we're really distancing ourselves from the heart of. Jonah is showing us, giving us an example that hate can grab a hold of your heart in such a profound way that God's love and mercy, and grace can be offensive to us. This is a dangerous place to be.
[00:13:13] When we start, when we start being mad and feeling this sense of entitlement and this sense of why would you do that for them? And God's love and grace and mercy on a particular person or group of people is a bad thing. Obviously we've missed our way a little bit. It's easy to hate people who are far from you.
[00:13:33] The other side of that coin, it's, it's hard to hate people that you're committed to. This is really simple and really, really difficult to live this way. But the people you don't like, the people that you disagree with, the people that drive you nuts, if you would commit to helping them, if we would commit to helping them, I promise our heart would start to change.
[00:13:54] I'm sure you have. I've had this experience so many times in my life where I had all these opinions and beliefs, and I knew what that person was like, or I knew what those type of people were like until you have to sit down and share a meal. You're like, oh man, they're just like me. I knew it. You know, I thought they were the worst and guess what?
[00:14:12] We're all the worst. They're the worst. Just like I am, or maybe you have to serve alongside them. Or maybe you like go to where they're from and learn a little bit about their context and why they are the way they are. And the more you get to know them, the more you commit to like shoulder to shoulder life with them.
[00:14:30] And it gets a lot harder to hate somebody. The more you know about. God calls us into these difficult, uncomfortable dynamics, because he knows that hate thrives when it's far away, hate thrives. When it's far away, I can believe whatever I want to about someone that I've written off. There's no stakes, right?
[00:14:54] I can just say whatever I want. That person is just that way and move on. I don't have to engage. But when you actually start to engage, God will start to work on your soul to say it another way. You don't get to care about something that you're not going to help take care of. You don't get to care about something that you're not going to help take care of.
[00:15:15] Like if I get home from work and I've like such a long day, so many emails and like my wife, my beautiful wife is at home with our two little Tasmanian devils and they're breaking everything and they're tipping over the Christmas tree. And if I like walk in and I'm like, it's a mess in here. What have you been doing all?
[00:15:34] First off call the police cause I've just been killed. But other than that, like I hope, and I believe this in her, she would say, don't you have two arms in two legs, right? Like you're going to come in here and care about something without helping to take care of something. And then when I think about us and how we treat culture and how we treat things that are happening all around us, and we're just shouting at God going, what are you doing up there?
[00:15:58] I think he might go don't don't you have two arms, two legs. Don't you know, the good news of Jesus don't you have access to the holy spirit that comes on you in power and send you to the mess. You don't get to care about something that you're not going to take care of. If we're just firing off opinions about people or groups with no intention of helping, we are bringing zero value into this human experience and a word I like to call this Facebook.
[00:16:26] You know what I mean? Just kind of, we're going to share posts and do nothing else.
[00:16:33] You don't get to care if you're not going to help take care. The last point that leads us towards hatred, I think is found in verse four. Look back there with me, but the Lord replies to Jonah, have you any right to be angry? Have you any right to be angry? See, it's easy to hate other people. When we forget that we are an absolute mess and God loves us in spite of.
[00:16:58] God asks Joan, I think lovingly, have you any right to be angry? Jonah, did you forget how loved and how forgiven you are? Did you forget how many chances I gave you? Jonah? Did you forget how messed up you are? You are like the worst prophet ever. Like it's not even close. This whole book is about you not doing what I told.
[00:17:21] At every turn, you run in the opposite direction. And now all of a sudden you're mad that this people group doesn't get another chance. How many cheese I had to swallow you with the fish. And now you want to be judgmental about the Ninevites. And I just wonder if we're the ones that we're waiting on. I wonder if God would say no, no, no marriages.
[00:17:39] Aren't like the institution of marriage is not getting smoked out because of like rap music or halftime shows. It's actually, because we're not being that good at marriage. Like, I wonder if we would set the example and go, what if we're the ones that are supposed to model it? What if I took some initiative and I took some responsibility and I go, man, my two little girls, however, they grow up.
[00:18:00] Seeing marriage is really on me and my wife. It's not on Fox news or CNN. It's not their responsibility. It's my responsibility. What God's saying? No, no, no, you don't get to care if you're not going to help take care. You don't get to just come in and say, the dishes look like crap. Why don't you do them?
[00:18:16] Don't you have two hands. I was supposed to get that mad. I'm sorry, but you know what I mean? Like
[00:18:28] man, we're just called to more than that. God, God is sending us to these people to make a difference. And I just think we're like, why would you, why would you include the Ninevites God? And he's going, I'm include him because I'm sending you tools. Wouldn't it be a good thing if they change their. The wickedness that you experienced the hate and the violence that you experienced from the Ninevites.
[00:18:50] Wouldn't that be a good thing if they stopped doing that? So why don't you go and preach to them?
[00:18:57] So the next time we want to rush to some conclusion about somebody else. I wonder if it would help. If we remember all the ways that we've fallen short ourselves, when we run from responsibility, we run toward hatred. Let's move on. So look at what Jonah does after God asks him this question. Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city there.
[00:19:19] He made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. He sat down in some shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. So Jonah is just full blown pouting. Now he just can't believe that God loves these people. When we run from responsibility, we, we run toward irrelevance.
[00:19:45] We avoid people, we avoid culture, we turn our nose up. We think we're better than more qualified for more justified than, and we just kind of close our blinds and we're like, not. We choose to remove ourselves from exactly where God has placed us. I love this word. Irrelevant. The original word comes from two words mashed together.
[00:20:08] That literally means opposite of purpose, opposite of the thing that God is calling you to opposite of the purpose that you've been commissioned for. You could define the word irrelevant literally by beside the point. Beside the point and the first few verses, we talked about the people that God has called us to, but now we move to the location to the place that God has called us.
[00:20:31] And, and rather than engaging it, rather than working to bring life change into those cities, what do we do? We just make nice little shelters on the hillside and I'll just see what happens. Let me get my popcorn out. And we're literally beside the. Like guys, like Jonah go to Nineveh and Jonah kind of does.
[00:20:49] And then he's just like, why'd you do that? God. And then he just starts pouting right next to the city where this life changed, just happened right next to this incredible thing that God just did in the Ninevite people. And Jonah, because he's running from his responsibility chooses irrelevant. He just sits in the shade and waits.
[00:21:09] What's going to happen to this city. This verse is so convicting to me. Is this what we're doing? Is this what we want to settle for? Let's just grab a seat and see what happens do we, do we really want to be this removed from the action while we're sitting and waiting to see what will happen to this city?
[00:21:30] God is waiting for us to get off of our butt and happen to this. God is waiting for us to full of the holy spirit, happened to our workplaces, that we might happen to the street that we live on, that we might happen to the dinner table, that we might happen to our school, to our church, to the places that we work out, whatever it might be while we're just sitting on the hillside going, all right, guy, you take care of them.
[00:21:55] They're lost. Cause he's like, well, you get up and go happen to the city, please. I filled you with the spirit. I called you to it. This is exactly where I want you to be. I don't want to settle like Jonah settled. I don't want to remove myself like Jonah removed himself. I want to happen to the city, man. I want to rush into the darkness, into the emptiness, into the hopelessness, with the good news that there's a big God that came all this way to bring us home.
[00:22:22] And I want this church family to be known, not as hateful in irrelevant, but as a church family that gets involved, that gets close range that doesn't just sit on the sidelines, but that's. To the city, not a church that just cares about a bunch of do's and don'ts, but a church that takes care of the brokenness that's in us and around us.
[00:22:40] Come on, this is what we've been called to do. You thought this was a story about a fish? This is a story about us getting involved, taking responsibility. I don't want to be beside the point anymore. Where is God calling you to get involved right now? Like where's the city that he's calling you into.
[00:23:05] Let's finish out these verses versus. Then the Lord, God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort. And Jonah was very happy about the vine, but at Dawn the next day, God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered when the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint.
[00:23:30] He wanted to die and said it would be better for me to die than to. But God said to Jonah, do you have any right to be angry about the vine? I do. Jonah said I'm angry enough to die, but the Lord said, you have been concerned about this vine though. You did not tend it or make it grow it spring up overnight and died overnight.
[00:23:50] But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left and many cattle as well. I love that. He included that and there's a lot of cows to Jonah. Should I not be concerned? About that great city. You're sitting here worried about this vine that you did nothing to do.
[00:24:07] You had nothing to do with it growing or stopping to grow. You have all these opinions about this vine, where there's hundreds of thousands of people right down that hillside, that you're indifferent about, that you could care less about the herbicide. The point when we run from responsibility, we run towards futile.
[00:24:28] Define as pointlessness or uselessness. And I know this is a little bit harsh, but, but I do think this is what's at risk. If we keep running from our responsibility like Jonah, did we choose to distract ourselves from what God means to reduce? Let me look at the emotional rollercoaster that Jonah goes on in these verses verse six, God provides a vine and Jonah was very happy about the vine.
[00:24:52] The vine gets eaten up. It gets a little bit windy and in verse eight, Jonah gets tired and wanting to die. Verse nine, God asked Jonah similar question. Do you have any right to be angry? He goes, yeah, I'm angry enough to die. You're like, wow, there's a lot going on here. What a big day for you. There's this sense of entitlement?
[00:25:09] This sense of like, like wishy washy, like erratic behavior, unstable behavior of what we see from Jonah. Honestly, it's an immaturity, isn't it? Like? He's behaving like a toddler. Like I want candy, no freak out. Right. I have one at home. I know this. Well, just losing my mind. Well, what if we watch this movie?
[00:25:29] Everything's totally fine. Now everything changed. And man, I just wonder if we're like this. If we're getting our way, we're happy. If we're comfortable, we're happy if we have good shade and there's not too much wind and like, we're okay, we're fine now. Yeah. Praise God. But when any adversity comes our way, when God does anything that we don't want him to cause us to that person or that place, we're like, God, are you serious?
[00:25:51] Like, are we that fickle? Are we that erratic? God uses the imagery of this vine to make his point that Jonah has spent this whole book caring about himself. Prioritizing himself, trusting himself, giving himself direction. And he's completely missed the point. He's sitting on a hillside, just mad at everything cause it's windy and because God loves the Ninevites.
[00:26:21] But what about, what about us? What are the vines that we get distracted by in our lives? What are the trivial things that we're wasting our time and energy and resources? On, we get distracted by our hate for people who are far from us, we get distracted by, by not getting our way. And we trade in our purpose for irrelevance.
[00:26:48] We get distracted from the point with, with 401k, we get distracted with our kids on the honor roll. So we can put that sticker on the back of our car. Like anyone cares about that, right? Sorry. I cut you off, but my kid's kind of smart, I guess.
[00:27:08] My parents didn't have that problem if you were wondering, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. We get distracted and making sure everyone knows our opinions, or we have all these followers. We get distracted with arguing with other Christians about whether God created the world in six literal days or six metaphor.
[00:27:25] It's like, are we serious? I was born in 1991, but I don't know how long it took to create the world. Okay. I don't even know the eighties. So like, it was just this, the humility that has to come with this, like, are we really going to distract ourselves with this? Is this what we're going to fill our time with?
[00:27:41] And we miss out on what God is working out. We, we miss out on the redemption that God is playing out. Simply put, I don't want us to follow Jonah's. And settle for hatred and settle for irrelevance and settle for futility because God is calling us to love. He's calling us to get involved. He's calling us to give our time and our attention and our energy to the things that he's redeeming.
[00:28:07] We actually get to join him in that work. We get the privilege to partner with God and this mission to save the world with the good news of Jesus. And if Jonah teaches us anything, it's that there's no such thing as too far gone. When we have a God, this big, I don't know who you see yourself more in a disobedient prophet that doesn't listen to anybody or a people group that's been labeled and categorized as wicked and lost in the enemy somewhere in between.
[00:28:39] Maybe a little of both the man doesn't this story teach us that God still has a heart for you. No matter where you are. God hasn't written you off. God, hasn't discarded you. God, hasn't moved on from you. I don't care what happened last night, last weekend, last year. I know for a fact that God's heart for you is that you still have a chance there's still light.
[00:29:01] There's still hope. And this good news is still for you. No matter if you're Ninevah or Jonah or somewhere in between, God's going no, come on. It's time to come home. Stop running, stop running from the responsibility. Stop trying to figure this out on your own. We've spent enough time sitting and waiting to see what's going to happen to this city.
[00:29:20] God has equipped us and called us to happen to the city. God has filled us with the holy spirit so that no city, no workplace, no dinner table, no street, no freeway, whatever. Be the same after we've been there because we're the type of people that don't sit on the hillside. No, we don't just care. We take care.
[00:29:38] We go into.
[00:29:42] Maybe we're the ones sent to love those people. Maybe, maybe we were made to change these cities, maybe creation really is waiting for us for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed, to make our appearance, to get involved. What if we're the ones that we're waiting on? Let's pray together.
[00:30:10] Got we, uh, we're challenged and convicted by this. And Lord, I pray for all of my friends in this room and all these rooms, God, that you would continue this work in our hearts. God, we know that your, every bit of conviction that we feel isn't to isn't to call us out it's to call us up and closer to you.
[00:30:32] And solar where you do that work. We need you to do that. Will you continue to water the plant and our souls got to love you and to trust you and to run right into the people and the places that you're calling us to. We're so thankful for who you are, and we love you. And we pray this in Jesus' name.