Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons. The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Jonah 4:1-11, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday. You can listen to the whole sermon here.
Jonah has a hissyfit over a plant which didn’t even exist 24 hours ago! How much more should God care about Nineveh? Those people are far more important to God than some here-today-gone-tomorrow plant.
We’re talking about 120,000 people who don’t know their left hand from their right. Poor little mites. They still need ‘L’ and ‘R’ written on their shoes. Spiritually-speaking, they’re clueless. And God has pity on them. He loves the lost.
Is this how you think God feels about non-Christians? About you?
All Jonah saw was a city full of sinners who needed a good walloping. God saw lost people whom He loved and was dying to save.
He is abounding in steadfast love. Like a waterfall is abounding with water, so God’s love spills out of Him, always overflowing with compassion for helpless people.
There’s more than enough love for everyone. Nobody is beyond the pale.
He’s gracious and merciful. So at the slightest hint of repentance, He leaps into action, to rescue sinners. He loves being kind to bad people.
God is not an angry monster. That’s Jonah’s job! God is far more loving than we’re comfortable with. He loves His enemies.
Ultimately He would show that love by not running away like Jonah but gladly coming to us. Moving in with us. Dying a disgusting death to take our punishment, our disaster, so that He could relent from bringing disaster to us. Jesus is how much God loves the lost.
I think our natural response to this chapter is to say, “Well, I don’t feel like Jonah does about lost people.” When the right response is to say, “Wow, I don’t feel like God does about lost people. And I should.”
I don’t love the lost like that, so much that I’d go to any length, to see them saved. And I am one of those lost people! Or at least I was.
God has given the church the job of taking the gospel out to the world. But how often, like Jonah, do we run from this task, because we don’t really love people. Not like this. We love being saved ourselves. But other people? Meh. We could take it or leave it.
In Facebook terms, Burk Parsons put it like this, “When it comes to the Gospel, too many Christians just ‘like’ instead of ‘share’.”
When God loves the lost and saved us so we’d help reach others.