Scripture: Jonah 1:5-6
Last week we saw an incredible promise: God will go to the ends of the earth to bring his children back to His love and goodness. Today as Jonah interacts with unbelieving Gentiles, God shows us that He cares about how we relate to and treat people who are different from us.
These unbelieving pagans were not narrow-minded. They were not bigoted and prejudiced against their Jewish passenger. They didn’t blame him or disrespect his god even when Jonah later tells them to through him into the sea. These sailors are making Jonah look even worse by working together for the common good.
Jonah, a prophet of the true God, didn’t care about the people of Nineveh and now he doesn’t care about the captain and crew of the ship. The same storm was impacting all of them. They are in the same boat together. When the whole world faced COVID together, did Christians care for and love unbelievers who were without hope for the future? There was lots of blame for China and others.
Through the unbelieving ship’s crew and captain, Jonah was shown that he should see himself as part of the entire human community and not only a member of the chosen community of faith. When we know our ultimate future is secure in heaven, do we ignore the pain and fear of the world around us? All people are made in the image of God and all are loved and precious to him.
1 John 1:5-7
Scripture’s concept of common grace says that God give gifts of wisdom, justice, morality , beauty, and goodness across all of humanity – regardless of race or religion.
Notice here, God upholds all. He provides food to every living creature. The world receives God’s blessings and grace even though all are undeserving. God is near to all who call on him.
Jonah was part of God’s chosen nation, Israel, he had the blessing of God revealed law and Word, but he acted selfishly and uncaring. As unbelievers receive God’s common grace, they sometimes act more righteously than His children. How many generous philanthropists and courageous unbelieving people have outdone believers in caring for their communities? Christians should be be humble and more respectful towards those who don’t share our faith. We should appreciate the work of all people and learn from them. Jonah was learning this lesson the hard way.
Who is my neighbor?
Jesus answered with the story of the good Samaritan. A man who didn’t just put up a yard sign saying “we love and accept everyone” but he sacrificially gave his time, his comfort, his money, his reputation, and even future unknown expense to care for a Jewish man in need. This was the kind of person, many of us would also have avoided – laying in the gutter, beat up, half dressed and half dead. Jesus was teaching that showing mercy to anyone we encounter is the right way to love our neighbors.
Jonah was a bad prophet and an even worse neighbor. He did nothing to care for the men on the ship with him. He didn’t speak to them. He ignored them and the dire storm they were facing. He went to sleep! He showed no concern for their common good and he took the common grace he experienced completed for granted.
In James 2, we learn that faith without mercy and action is useless and dead.
Don’t be like Jonah! Look for occasions to demonstrate God’s love and mercy to your neighbors. That’s everyone God brings into your path. If you were not here a few years ago, go back and find the Art of Neighboring sermon series. I will put a link in today’s message too. In your bulletin there is a neighborhood map. Hang this on your fridge and add the names of your immediate neighbors. My daughter Grace called a week ago, so excited that she was stepping out of her comfort zone and meeting her new neighbors.
As you learn the names of your neighbors, begin to pray for them and for opportunities to show them God’s love. Now that it’s Spring, there are more chances of running into them. Get your kids in on it too! They are often bolder than mom and dad.
Listen to the Art of Neighboring sermon series – https://dunkirkbaptist.org/sermon-series/the-art-of-neighboring/
Do you see yourself as a sinner in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness? Have you repented of your sin and accepted God’s forgiveness and salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus? Jesus said come to me with all your burdens and worries because I care about you. You can come up to the front rows during our last song and I will pray with you.
Do you know your neighbors? Do you love them? Do they know that? Can they see it in your actions? Your faith is alive and active when you show the people around you the mercy, grace, compassion, forgiveness, and love God shows you. Take the map home with you and see how many people you already know. See how many more you can add. Pray for greater love for the lost, for your neighbors, for the people who are different from you. And start loving them in the name of Jesus Christ.