Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Jonah Shows the Church

"And the Sea Stopped Raging"
- Barry Moser
On Sunday my church began a four week series on the book of Jonah. We thought about what Jesus called "the sign of Jonah" in terms of two things: The revelation of that raging chaos into which our rebellion from God plunges us, and the revelation of God's provision even (and especially) in the depths of it.

But Jonah shows us something else as well. We can get so used to looking down on him that we don't even see it. Karl Barth pulls it out of the text from us rather pointedly:

"We are reminded of the prophet Jonah fleeing from Yahweh and His commission. On board the ship from Joppa to Tarshish he was down below fast asleep when because of him the storm threatened to engulf the ship and its crew. But the lot fell on him. And the upshot was that to save the ship and the crew, the rest hesitantly--and even with vows and sacrifices--yet also resolutely threw him into the sea, and the storm was abated.

The only thing was that Jonah openly confessed his guilt to the[m] and himself advised them what to do, whereas, when the world threatens to cast Christianity overboard, it is seldom ready to admit that the general misery which has brought this about can have anything whatever to do with its own guilt, but usually sees all the failings in the evil world, and, far from being prepared to denounce its own sin and make free restitution for its fault, it normally protests most vociferously against any open threats of ejection" (Church Dogmatics IV/3, 468, emphasis added).

In the boat Jonah draws quite a contrast to the evangelical spokesmen of today who give the media such smug sound-bytes to play with whenever there is a public tragedy. By his example, Jonah shows us the interlocked nature of confession and mission. Without confession, mission is self-serving and self-righteous--and likewise the other way around.

1 comment:

Mama Bean said...

I have this weird and lovely connection to Jonah, and I was touched by this new thought about him :) Thanks!