Jonah is called by God to go to Nineveh, the greatest city in the world, to warn the city about impending disaster and preach there. Jonah refuses, heads in the other direction, and gets on a boat. God sends a storm to hunt him down, endangering the lives of everyone on the ship. Jonah, recognizing this, offers to be thrown into the ocean so the lives of the other sailors will not be forfeit.
We’re going to pause and look at the sub-plot here: Jonah’s impact on the sailors and their impact on him. God uses the sailors to teach Jonah something about himself and the world. In doing so, let’s take a look and see how God will teach us something about ourselves and how we are supposed to regard the world.
When we look at the story of Jonah and the sailors, we see how God uses surprising events to show us that His kingdom is the greatest. Jonah didn’t care much for the city and its people, but the sailors challenge this attitude. They show us that we’re supposed to affect the people around us, even if they’re different from us. This story helps us think about how we view the world and how we interact with people who are unlike us.
1. Everyone has a deep, spiritual need, but without God this need is often twisted by fear
We all look for something to give our lives meaning. Sometimes we look for this in relationships or art, but often we focus too much on work, which isn’t good for us. When things get tough, we might turn to religion. But if we don’t have faith in Christ, these religions can become something we fear. To truly trust God, we need to give Him our complete trust and obey Him. If we rely on false gods or material things, we’ll only end up feeling scared and unsure.
2. The sailors scold Jonah for not using his faith to help others
The church should be active in helping solve problems in society. We should focus on helping those who need it most, like people who are ignored or refugees, instead of worrying about disagreements within the church. When we admit we’re not perfect and truly understand the gospel, we can start to love and serve others. Being a Christian isn’t just about believing certain things, it’s about living in a certain way. It’s about engaging with the world, being brave like Thomas Cranmer, and reconnecting with God’s grace.