Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunday Preview

Hey kiddos...
I'm preaching about Jonah on Sunday, so I thought I'd give you a preview of my sermon.  Cause I know that you're just chomping at the bit to hear another sermon....

Here's the Intro:

My family lived in Houston from the time I was in the second grade until the summer after my freshman year of high school.   We lived in the same house all those years, a red brick, two-story house with tall pine tress in the front, that I can still walk through in my mind (and often still do in my dreams).  I have many memories of that house, but one in particular stands out.  I don’t know how it came up, or why I was thinking about it, but I wandered down the stairs, through the family room and into the kitchen where my mother was doing dishes.  I couldn’t have been older than 8 or 9 when I asked my mother, “Who goes to heaven?”  My poor mother.  Luckily my mom is quick on her feet and bought herself some time to think by asking me a question: “Why do you ask?”  Now, if you know me, my answer won’t surprise you one bit.  So I told her, “I don’t want anybody to go to hell.”  It galled me to think that people were being punished even if they’d never heard about Jesus.  I was starting to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and it hurt.  And then my mother said something very complicated to me: “Well honey, we believe that Jesus is the way.  But I have a feeling that God will honor the faithfulness of those who don’t know about Jesus.  God’s really the one who decides all that.”

God decides all that.  Not the easiest answer.  Not even the most comforting answer.  But ultimately true to what we find in scripture both in the Romans passage we heard earlier and in Jonah today.  We find Jonah at the end of the drama: after he’s been thrown up on the beach by a fish; after he’s been tossed off a boat by pagan sailors who seem to understand the will of God better than he; after all the attempts to get out of God’s explicit instructions.  We find Jonah, pouting because God has done something outrageous – he’s decided to forgive.  And not just anybody.  He’s decided to forgive Nineveh – crummy, scummy, sinful Nineveh.  Long-standing mortal enemy of Israel, Nineveh.  And that’s it for Jonah.  The Final Straw has been broken.  He’d like to die now please.

Because Jonah understands Mercy (Israel gets it all the time).  But this is just too much.  God has gone too far.  It’s Too Much Mercy!

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