Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jonah: God is not your Boss

Jonah, a prophet by profession, was summoned by his manager one day. Jonah heard the boss' work order, "Go to Nineveh and let them know that they have been and are turned against me. Let them know that they need to turn it around."

There's no denying that Jonah was a somewhat hardheaded and lazy worker and when he heard this task it took less than a minute for his decision to be made. He was not going to Nineveh. That was a crazy idea. So, knowing his prophet role was coming to an end he set off to start a new life.

Step One: Get as far away from that boss as possible. Next stop: Tarshish. Jonah flees.

If this was an accurate paraphrase of the first 3 verses of the Book of Jonah (it is not), how would you expect Jonah's boss to respond?

He should do nothing. His employee disobeyed. Oh well, move on. Hire someone new. At least Jonah fled town, the boss won't even have to deal with the trouble of firing him. Move onto the next guy.

Thankfully, Yahweh is not like this. His response is very different.

Verse 4:
Then Yahweh sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

Thankfully, yes, that's the word I meant to use. Thankfully, Yahweh is a God who sends storms after disobedient, hardheaded, lazy Jonahs. He won't simply let Jonah walk away.

Because Yahweh is very different.

Yahweh is no one's employer/boss/manager.

One of the most influential people in my life would frequently make this distinction. He'd warn of the risk of a love relationship with God becoming a business relationship. Jesus didn't die so that I could work for him. Jesus didn't die so I could punch in and punch out of my relationship with him. Jesus didn't die so I could put in long, dissatisfying, brutal hours working for him.

He's a God of relationship. His goal is that we would know him. His goal is that knowing him would propel us forward to live for him, not to work for him.

Yahweh has no hired hands.

Jonah was not an employee. He was a chosen voice from a chosen people. Yahweh's desire is that people would know him and be adopted by him as sons and daughters. You let your employees walk away, but you chase after your runaway son or daughter.

Yahweh is powerful.

Any parent would pursue their wayward offspring. No earthly parents can summon a storm to bring their child back. That's pretty awesome.

Yahweh uses storms.

Yahweh did not shift the wind towards Nineveh. He didn't bring on a thunderstorm. He used a fierce squall. A storm so strong it threatened to break the ship to pieces. This was serious. And Yahweh promises to do the same to his followers today. The New Testament is littered with references to the key role of suffering and hardship in bringing about transformation in the life of a believer. Yahweh loves us too much to allow us to live unhindered.

Yahweh is different.


John said...

I like the way you think. Thanks for the encouragement, buddy.

Evan said...

Dang. This speaks to me now. I pray that conditional storm spurs me to follow Jesus now.