Rembrandt_Harmenszoon_van_Rijn_-_The_Prophet_Jonah_before_the_Walls_of_Nineveh,_c._1655_-_Google_Art_Project

Sermon Script: Jonah 1:1-3; 1John 3:16-18
Sermon Purpose: Go share the gospel with those who are not like you.
Title: “I don’t wanna go!”

I have been blessed with two strong willed children. My son, Evan, is at an age where he is trying to recapture his terrible twos. There is very little doubt in my mind he is acting out because his little sister is also acting out. Tuesday of this past week it was too cold out side to take the kids out to play in the morning so Karen decided to load up the kids and run some errands. Evan did not want to go. Evan wanted to stay home and play with his mawn mowers. A small argument ensued where it was made very clear to him if he did not get up and put his shoes on he would lose his mawn mowers for the rest of the day. To put it simply Evan did not want to go, but like it or not – he went. (pause) I often find it amusing how often we as adults find ourselves acting like children. How many times have we heard the call or felt compassion for our neighbor, the meek or the needy and simply said, “I don’t want to go”? How many times have we heard the call to foreign missions, or to participate in a Bible Study, or to help raise funds for our church, but have declined because we simply did not want to go? This morning we are going to talk about a man who also did not want to go. This morning we are going to talk about Jonah.

Jonah was a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel. You must understand at this time the nation of Israel is split in two. The northern kingdom came about when ten of the twelve tribes of Israel split away from the southern two tribes. The northern kingdom was called Israel, and the southern kingdom was called Judah. Jonah was a prophet of the northern kingdom Israel. Do y’all remember what the job of a prophet is? The job of a prophet is to deliver God’s messages to the people. Jonah was a disobedient prophet. Jonah was told to deliver God’s message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jonah did not wanna go. Do you know why Jonah did not wanna go?

Jonah did not wanna go to Nineveh because Nineveh was the capital city of the kingdom of Assyria. Assyria was a horrible place, with a brutal army. When the Assyrian army would march in and take cities they did awful things to the people they captured. Women were raped. Children were killed. Men were beheaded, or lead away into slavery by a ring placed in their lip and then tied to the back of a horse. Assyria’s sinning was awful. Is it any wonder Jonah did not want to go? Is it any wonder Jonah felt he had a right to say, “No”? Surely this wasn’t God’s plan. We learn from the rest of Jonah, Jonah wanted Nineveh and the rest of Assyria destroyed, and because Jonah wanted Nineveh destroyed Jonah ran the other way. Jonah ran to Joppa and got on a boat to Tarshish in the opposite direction from Nineveh.

Jonah did not wanna go, but there’s a problem with not wanting to go. There is a problem with running in the opposite direction. When we run away from what God has asked us to do we are running away from God. Running away puts distance between us and God. Anything that puts distance between us and God is a sin. When we run away from God we are practicing sinful behavior. Practicing sinful behavior is what landed Jonah in so much trouble.

Sisters and brothers let me ask you something. Are there people to whom you do not want to go? Are there people you flat don’t like, or don’t want to be around? Maybe they smell bad. Maybe they don’t make as much money as you. Maybe they just make you uncomfortable. Take a moment, and close your eyes. I want you to picture in your mind the people with whom you would rather NOT spend time. Who are the people to whom you would rather not give money, or with whom you would rather not share a meal? Who are the people whom you would rather forget they exist? Are they poor? Are they lost? Do they drive you crazy? Let me ask you a further question. To whom are we called to go by Jesus’ last command? Do you remember what Jesus’ last command was? “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Do you remember how Jesus began His earthly ministry with Peter? Jesus sees Peter and his brother Andrew cleaning their nets by the sea side and says to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Now tell me. At what point did Jesus say, “If you catch’em, you clean’em?” Jesus did not say we are to clean them or throw the ones we don’t like back into the water. From God the message is always, “You catch’em and I’ll clean’em.” Who are we to throw fish out of the boat for not being like us? Cleaning or throwing the fish out of the boat is not our job. Our job is to bring in the catch – the whole catch, and then walk with them so we can grow closer to God together. 1John 3:14-18 says;

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”

There could be another reason we don’t wanna go. We have tried to reach out to people and no matter how much love and kindness we offer these people they just won’t act like us. They won’t act the way we think they need to act. Have you ever considered the reason we don’t want to go is because we are snobs? Sisters and brothers, sticking our noses up at people who are not like us is judgmental snobbery and not worthy of the love of God. You may be thinking, “What’s love got to do with it?” Tina Turner asked that question too. If we read the Gospels we can hear the blood of our savior scream from the cross, “Love has everything to do with it!” Do not expect people to become more like us or to fit our expectations. That isn’t love. That is conceit and pride and vanity. Trying to make people more like us is about making us feel better about being us. The trouble is we are all sinners. If we make people more like us we make them twice the sinners we are… oops.

Now, some of you really don’t wanna go for fear of messing up. Hear me sisters and brothers. We must learn the lesson Jonah did not. We have to realize that everything we do as the church has to be about the love of God. Both the love God has shared with us through the sacrifice of God’s son Jesus Christ. And the love we have for God which we need to share with those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. We aint ever gonna meet those people who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ if we refuse to go to where the lost can be found. We are not going to catch any fish unless we know where to look. Unless we find that good fishing hole our fishing nets will always be empty. Sisters and brothers if you think about it you already know where the lost can be found. I implore you this morning to lay aside the excuses; take up your fishing nets, and go fishing with the love of God in your hearts.

In the Name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

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