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Just Do Something (Jonah 3)

Jonah is an interesting guy.  By man's standards, he's probably the worst missionary in the Bible.  Just look at the facts.  He didn't want to go to the people God called him to.  Running from God isn't usually the best way to do it but that's what he did.  Jonah knew God would forgive the Ninevites so he thought if he didn't go they'd still be destroyed.  Ouch!  When the sailors were in great need, he was fast asleep in the belly of the ship.  And then his approach to ending his troubles was suicide by sailor.  At this point, I don't think anybody in Jerusalem would want to name a missionary organization named after Jonah.  

But it actually gets worse.  As Jonah was sinking toward his watery tomb, God intervened and saved Jonah.  It was in that situation that Jonah had a wake-up call.  He worshiped God and submitted to his will.  So we might expect Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a remarkable sermon.  

But no.  

Jonah walked into the city and called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown"  (Jonah 3:4).  Now, it's important to see that what Jonah preached was absolutely true.  The kingship of their own sin and evil would be overthrown by the God of gods and King of kings.  But they probably didn't see it that way.  They were probably thinking that the city would be destroyed.  Jonah probably thought that too.  

Notice that Jonah's sermon does not include any actions points.  It's void of alliteration.  It's not funny or full of good illustrations.  It didn't start with three worship songs.  But notice what happened when Truth was proclaimed. 

Jonah 3 goes on to say that the people started telling others.  They were calling for a fast and repenting in sackcloth.  Eventually word reached the king of the city and he ordered that the entire city repent so there may be a possibility that God would not destroy them.  Jonah's sermon was successful because God had prepared the people to hear and respond.  (I wonder if Jonah was surprised by the results of his not-so-hot sermon?)  

You can almost see Jonah in our excuses can't you.  "I'm not sure if I want to talk to that kind of person."  Or maybe it's, "I don't know enough to share my faith."  Or maybe you think tracts, or street-evangelism, or any number of things can't work.  Really?  Can't the God who is greater than the great city, the great tempest, the great wind, and the great fish, do what he wants with the things you think don't work?   

If we should learn anything from Jonah, it's that God can reach his people with us, even if we don't know enough, or preach badly, or struggle to do evangelism.  Because it's not about our ability.  It's about God's ability.  

So don't be afraid to drop a tract on the table at lunch and leave it.  Don't be afraid to say something to your co-worker.  Don't be so quick to judges the efforts of others.  God can, and does, use the Jonah's of this world to see his Kingdom grow.