Jh1 Hemmed in. Our God coordinates MHC, Sunday afternoon meditations, Sunday evening sermons, now this. Tipping the scale of true allegiance, crossing the cusp of the hill of obedience, transitioning from come-and-see to go-and-die forms of discipleship. Jonah here is waving his own flag, looking out for number one, fearful of others more than God, concerned for his own comfort over the fate of the nations. So help me God. .. v3 paid. We hand over good money to get away from God, all the time. Escapism always costs something, escapism is always futile. .. v6 Sleepers. Vauxhall's zombies the morning after the night before, oblivious. Such are we in our seeing without seeing, the glazed gaze of a middle distant Zoolander comportment. Sleepwalk no more. .. v10 'I fear the Lord..' Really? Clearly a woefully deficient fear of th'Lord. So, as we must be towards death, let us be so authentically v16 exceedingly with vows and Rm12v1 sacrifices.
Jh2 So those who try to save their lives will lose it, this is the way to v1 Sheol. We know this, as Jonahs running away, we always end up inside the fish, one way or another. This morning at St M's a note that we often cry out to God and listen more profoundly in times of suffering, as Jonah here, but I ask that we learn to pray Jonah's prayer in all seasons, insofar as it is the giving up of oneself, the commitment to v9 sacrifice of oneself, the commitment to v9 & so come & die to self. The movement from self-protection to self-abandonment shifts our being from v1 Sheol to v9 God's salvation. God, with honest words such as Jonah's, we ask that you keep us in the commitment to ie to self today. These are your morning's new mercies, that as we die with Christ, so we are raised with Christ (after 1v17 three days). Here we stand in the morning's resurrection, vomited up on the beach, fresh with conviction in our hearts.
Jh3 London is nothing if not an v3 exceedingly great city. How shall she be saved? By the artless and brief preaching of Hell (Hell as 'overthrowing' Gen19v25)? An eight word sermon on unconditional judgement by a reluctant evangelist here changed a city. The emphasis on underqualified brevity should convict this overeducated verbophile that my evangelism is not about me, and certainly not about my lofty speech or wisdom 1Cor2v1. .. Two days immersion in the God Delusion might be fuel for a well-intended softening of the expression of Hell, for fear of proliferating the church pain of entrenched antitheists. This should not be. Present and eschatological Hells are viscerally more than allegory. While we can and should speak with more compassion than Jonah, we preach perishing to the perishable and time is short. .. Interesting that repentance involves the animals v7 – so we, our sin, economy, diet and salvation are entangled.
Jh4 Feels like Obadiah in identifying the twistedness of our comparative emotions, v1 pride, anger & self-righteousness - the defence mechanisms here, where our hearts cannot bear the scandal of grace, which puts us all on a level playing field with God, the Mt20v1-16 indignity of being paid the same as one who has laboured less. Like Jonah, we are all apt to become petulant teenagers. But God points out again v4 that the one we damage most here is ourselves. .. v7 The gift economy is not a badge of honour to wear, nor an ideology to subscribe to so to make people more like you, it must unselfconsciously be the lived experience of the fact that nothing we own is ever really ours. Dying to self involves the recognition that we do not have the rights we like to pretend that we do, unclench our fist, free to love the other for their own sake. And loving the other as other: it is easy sometimes to love people, v10 plants and baby polar bears on frozen planet in a self-identifying self-extending or ends-means-gratifying way, but this is not the only kind of love God calls us into. God breaks this with his v2 great gracious dismounting absurd love and mercy. So see what your father is doing, and become self-emptying, as God is. Loving the Ninevan other with whom there is no scrap of identification. Come and die to self as such, be holy as God is holy.