During this season when many churches connect the 4th of July holiday with worship in one form or another, at Wornall Road we are concluding our months long series in the book of Jonah. It does us well to be reminded that chief among Jonah’s many sins was the idolatry of his nation and his culture. Jonah gladly and very successfully served as a prophet to his nation, the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Jonah would have been quick to call upon God to bless his own nation, his own people. But when God revealed His own desire for Jonah to be a missionary to the evil and God hating culture of Nineveh, the vile big city that hated everything Jonah loved, Jonah would have none of it.
Rather then confront the idolatry in his heart Jonah ran from God. By running from God he revealed his idolatry of his culture, his people, even his religion and his nation. His love of his nation was greater than his love of God whom he understood to be the foundation of his nation. God’s intervention upon Jonah in form of a storm and a fish to swallow him did not result in Jonah’s repentance. Even in the darkness of the belly of the fish where Jonah did in fact pray he never repented of his idolatry, not even once.
In fact so deep seeded was Jonah’s idolatry of nationalism that even after ALL of Nineveh repented Jonah refused to rejoice in the saving work of God. As pastors we must lead our people with great care to be fully engaged citizens who are truly thankful for our nation – without idolizing it or our culture. We must battle our own sinful flesh so that we will not see the world through the eyes of self serving nationalism but through the eyes of a just and merciful God - who gave His only son that the Whole World might be saved.