The Generation of Jonah

caveat: this is another faith-centered post, so for those of you that dismiss religious matters, you’ll want to skip this one.

THE GENERATION OF JONAH

This idea has been fermenting for over a decade, and for whatever reason is surfacing now. (should I say “breaching” to keep with the topic?)

I’m not going to be coy, or cute or clever here. These are simply my observations and opinions.

THE STORM

In the Book of Jonah, the storm was Jonah’s doing. I know it says God stirred it up, but that was in response to Jonah’s disobedience. He was fleeing by boat in the opposite direction. God got his attention.

In America today, there’s no doubt our society’s in turmoil. I won’t roll out the litany of problems – we all know them. The list is long and serious. Exact numbers are tough, but somewhere between 60% – 70% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian.” Even half of three-hundred plus million is a lot of people. Given that the church of Jesus Christ considers itself and its message the remedy to the ills of this world, and the next, I have one question: WHERE ARE YOU?

Now I’m not laying the burden of all of society’s ailments at the feet of the church, but the simple fact is that darkness is the absence of light. Translated to Christianity, that implies that whether deliberate, distracted, or neglectful, a lot of Christians simply aren’t being what they’re supposed to be. People are lost, frantic, and felonious because the faithful aren’t “shining.” (Don’t get all cuddly, charismatic on me here. It’s a metaphor)

CAN’T SEE THE STORM FOR THE WAVES.

In my opinion this current generation of American Christians needs to stop screwing around and get to work. Jonah was sleeping in the boat. Get that? Snoozing. I guess disobedience is exhausting.

While not ‘asleep‘ per se, too often the modern America church comes off as toddlers bickering over the latest toy, or Chicken Little panicking over the latest bogey-man. That’s no wonder, when the much of the leadership resembles a police line-up of snake-oil salesmen, demagogues, and ghetto-buskers. We come off as Tourists, not Pilgrims.

In line with Jonah, answering the call meant delivering the full message to the specific audience he’d been charged with. In 2012, it means being “Salt and Light”. It means declaring, un-apologetically, the full Gospel message. All of it. Grace and Truth, Redemption and Judgment. It also means getting your hands dirty with effective, compassionate labor among an audience that is freighted with problems and often downright nasty. Not everyone will respond favorably, but we (yes, I include myself in this) need to leave the results and our reputation in God’s hands, and obey.

IDENTITY CHECK

Make no mistake: the storm we face is huge, treacherous, and deadly. But… it is causing the other passengers to confront us about our identity and purpose. That is a good thing.

We better be honest and give the right answers.

Then, if we do, we better be willing to be thrown overboard, away from the illusionary safety of the boat, into the middle of the storm. Yes, it’s the “frying pan into the fire”, so to speak. But in passages like 2 Chron. 7:14, God promises to answer. Nowhere does He ever say this would be easy.

ON THE ANATOMY OF WHALES
Veggie Tale movie aside, the simple fact is Jonah had to repent. He had to get is heart right, determine to obey, let God bring him to the place he was supposed to be, then follow through on his vow.

This generation of American Christians needs to stop posturing. There’s no limit to the good a person can do if they stop caring who gets the credit. The time to really pray- and keep praying, the time to really preach – and keep preaching, the time to really prioritize – and implement those priorities, is Now. The storm is only going to get worse and we’re not going to survive dozing in the ship’s hold.

Historically. this nation has played a vital role in many ways on many levels, including religious/spiritual ones. But look at current, global church-growth stats; America isn’t the center of Christendom.

Always remember the decision was in Jonah’s hands; there were two ways out of that whale. God didn’t promise Jonah safety and comfort. He was giving him a second chance at his own destiny. He can always raise up another prophet.

Jesus prayed for workers in the harvest field. Not celebrities, singers, artists, movie stars, food pantries, teachers/preachers….Workers. He needs people that will labor in those areas.

If American Christians want any part in advancing God’s Redemption to this generation, we need to wake up and get to work. And if we’re not going to, we at least better start praying for God to raise up someone else.

The storm is still raging.

***

Rant over.

11 Comments on “The Generation of Jonah

  1. Great post! I often meditate over the book of Jonah when dealing with my own reluctance to proclaim the gospel. Perhaps what hits me the hardest is at the end of the book following the repentance of the people of Nineveh. Jonah expresses his anger towards God for sparing them. In fact he claims that was the real reason he did not want to go because he didn’t really want Nineveh to be saved. He rather wanted to see it burn and be proven of it’s sinful ways through judgment.

    I fear that there are those in the church who have that attitude. When it comes down to it, I think some are reluctant to share the gospel with certain kinds of people because they don’t want them in the family.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. people don;t compare the events of Jonah to our current culture as much as they should.

  2. This is true. Our entire society is juvenile and immature and Christians are no different. I’ve felt a great burden, especially lately, to raise my children to be mature Christians. Rather than preaching the gospel to the nation, this is (I believe) what God wants me to do.

    • Please don’t think I was exalting “preaching” over other ministries. Each of us has to do what God sets before us. Every facet is vital, honorable and valid.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Fantastic post. I’d like to see your Christian essays put together in a book.

  4. Good post, Paul. Like my pastor said once, God made the universe. If He wants to put a man in a big fish’s belly, that should be easy.

  5. Right on Patrick! The church in America is largely asleep; or worse dead.

    • Thing is, I don’t want to come off as unduly critical. There are plenty of good people out there laboring and loving in obscurity whose effects will be seen only in eternity.

      I heard the other day that only 15% of US churches are actually growing by conversion, and I thought “Dear God. What are the other 85% doing?” Maybe that was the catalyst. Dunno.

      Here’s an interesting article: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/michael-bell-what-is-an-average-church

      Take Care.

      • I would like to encourage you by say I don’t think you are being to critical. Sometimes there needs to be a wake up call to the masses. Praying God uses this post to bless others.

      • An earnest man of God never misses an opportunity to bend the knee and learn from wisdom. (It sometimes even works for me!) 😉

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