Word for Today – Jonah 1:12

Everyone Needs the One True God

Reading along in Jonah, I was struck by the sailors who shared Jonah’s get-a-way boat when he ran from God. The wayward prophet did not want any part of preaching repentance to the sinning society of Ninevah.

What was he thinking when he hopped on the Tarshish-bound boat to get away from God? Surely he forgot that his Creator was the best hide-and-go-seek player in the universe. Well, the headstrong prophet found himself  in the company of a bunch of pagan mariners.

As recorded in the Bible, a fierce storm churned the seas, battered the boat, and challenged the seasoned sailors confidence. After much discussion and consternation, Jonah suggested that they throw him overboard because his disobedience to God triggered the tempest.

I love the response from the pagan sailors as they tried to avoid throwing their passenger into the swirling sea:

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them” (Jonah 1:13 NRSV).

Sometimes non-believers can be pretty stand-up people. As Christians we sometimes think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that we are the only ones capable of being societies “good” neighbors. This stretch of Scripture really gets me to thinking.

A few years ago I caught an episode of a television show that followed the escapades of two families that traded mothers for two weeks. Space prevents me from going into as much detail as I like, but the producers always do their best to partner two families that are polar opposites.

This particular episode paired a conservative, Christian family that home-schooled, with a liberal, lesbian couple with a lax parenting style. By the end of the show I was embarrassed by the attitude displayed by the Christian couple. (As a note, I must say that I am not unaware of the editing process to capture the most explosive parts of the switch, but the overall rigidity of the Christian couple seemed genuine.)

When all the dust settled, the kindest person involved in the televised shenanigans was one of the lesbians who, at one point, was reduced to tears by the calloused and unloving comments hurled at her by the other couple. I’m not so sure that is what Jesus would have done had he been the one sitting across the table. (Yes, I know . . . sometimes the truth hurts when revealed, but I think a different approach would have been more prudent under the circumstances.)

Bottom line, no one is perfect. No party involved in this TV show displayed perfection. But, what a great example that not all Christians act Christ-like, and not all non-believers are terrible. Actually, they have something in common – both groups need a Savior to help them overcome their flesh.

Back to the sailors in the story: After heeding Jonah’s instructions and throwing him overboard, the seas miraculously calmed and they recognized the power and authority of the One True God: “Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows” (Jonah 1:16). They became believers!

Word for Today: Christian are not always kind; unbelievers are not all mean, but everyone needs Jesus.

Ponder This:

1. Do you know some kind unbelievers?

2. Do you minister to them? How?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 at 4:10 pm and is filed under jonah, Word for the Day. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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