Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Reflection - Jonah Runs, God Pursues - Running from God

Source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 2, Question 1, Page 29.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Reflect on Jonah's motivations for running from God and apply any insights to your own life.
PHOTO: Reflect on Jonah's motivations for running from God and apply any insights to your own life.
What might have been going through Jonah's mind when God sent him to preach against the wicked city of Nineveh? He was to deliver a hard truth, a message filled with warnings of fire and brimstone, and a reminder to its inhabitants to face up to their true condition. Who knows what would happen to him? Being sent right into the heart of the enemy with a message from God probably sounded like a suicide mission.

 
Perhaps Jonah may have thought it best to let the enemies of his people meet a terrible end. Why risk his life for an enemy? After all, he was not being sent to his own people, in whose welfare he might have an interest. Why bother with Israel's enemies, who deserved God's Punishment? Besides, Jonah's hometown Gath Hepher was located in the north of Israel, the region most vulnerable to Assyrian attack. The town's inhabitants had long lived in fear of military invasion and Assyrian cruelty. Why bother to save such an enemy?

Jonah may also have had a lingering suspicious that God would relent from punishing Nineveh if its people repented. He alluded (recall) to this in Jonah 4:2, when he complained to God, "Isn't this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Knowing that God was compassionate, Jonah was afraid that God would forgive Israel's archenemy if he went to the Nineveh as instructed. That would be the worst possible result!

I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many people in my life. People who are of different ages, status and stages of their life. I was brought up by my parents living in simple kampong, and the people I got to know were relatives and surrounding neighbours. During my youth there wasn't any sophisticated communication and transportation system. There was no Internet and the only news were through words of mouth, or through the radio and TV. Even that were also very limited and we are only aware of what is happening around us in our neighbourhood. Our natural enemies were the wild animals: cobra, python, rats and other pests that attacked our farm. Once in a while we might hear of thieves and armed robbers, but were insignificant to have any serious impact on our life. Human beings appeared to be safe and we could co-exist together peacefully.

We attended schools, from primary to secondary till polytechnics. In our childhood days we were mostly innocent, although very playful and naughty at times. But we were not evil or scheming, and thinking of ways to extract benefits from others. But once in a while we fell into gambling temptation, and lost all our school pocket money. Our parents were poor and life were very tough for them to make ends meet. So a little pocket money means a lot to us, and we would be seriously reprimanded and punished, if they found out that we have indulged in illegal activities.

Gambling is a dishonest mean of making money, especially those managed by bookies and touts. Why? Because the odds is not 50:50. It is probably 1:1,000,000. Such people in this world were quick to devise schemes that profited dishonestly from our weakness (greed). It was and still is, an evil trade out there. We have experienced and witnessed the plights and sufferings of those who succumbed to gambling debts.

Time past very fast and soon we have to serve our national service as soldiers in our army. There we discovered the harshness of the real world. During the army training we learned how impatient and unreasonable people could be. We lived in fear of our own instructors and commanders. We did not meet any other real "enemies". We thought we have gone through hell, but to our surprises, the normal civilian working world was not better. We learned the lessons of working with corporate crocodiles, and human vipers. Just like in the movies, the most venomous can appear friendly, helpful, and trustworthy, but always seductive, sinister, and with evil intentions. We were like the deer in the jungle being lured to co-operate in their plans that eventually brought us to the chopping board in the city.

Our enemies have evolved. They become more cunning, and even more brutal when armed with modern day’s technologies. They have the abilities to prey on our weakness, trap us, and go for the kill. Scammers are our enemies, but they are difficult to identify. They could be our close, and apparently trustworthy colleagues when we are still beneficial to them. Once we are no longer useful, or have become their "burden", we can expect distressful treatments. There will be very little love left, and we could end up with situations similar to Jonah's - hating the enemies. Working with such people is like a "suicide mission". "We may have thought it best to let our enemies meet a terrible end."

We are to know that "to err is human - forgiveness is divine". We too, make mistakes and commit sins, and God by His grace and mercy has forgiven us (Isaiah 43:25). We too, should do likewise and forgive others, no matter how difficult it may be. However, we must remain vigilant, and not to fall into scamming traps. But just like Jonah, we should repent and be obedient to the calling from the Bible: to love one another (John 13:34). Forgive and let God take care of the rest (Romans 1:18). "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32).


Are there any areas where you are running from God?
Have you noticed how people tend to leave the front pews empty in church? People have different reasons for running away from God. Perhaps they fear that it is dangerous to get too close to Him, as He might ask them questions they cannot or do not want to answer, or He may ask them to do things that they are unwilling or afraid to do. He might even ask them to give up precious possessions, habits, or relationships that are not right in His sight.

They also run away from God in different ways: by keeping their distance, by freezing in disobedience, or by indulging in false piety.

 
Some people try to follow Christ at a distance. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter "follow him at a distance" (Matthew 26:58). Perhaps he truly wanted to follow Jesus, but was afraid of what might happen to him if he stayed too close. Self-preservation seems to be the overriding motive when people try to keep a safe distance from God. But this is foolish. The safest place is not far away from God, but near Him, in the shadow of His wings

We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.


Some people run away from God by freezing in disobedience. They live with what they consider "small" or "respectable" sins, believing that they don't need to be rescued from them, or that these sins are not as bad as the "big" ones like murder and adultery. But Jesus did warn us about such sins - they hinder us from growing in our relationship with God.

Then there are those who, like the Pharisees, indulge in false piety and construct religious scaffolding to avoid facing the full implications of trusting and loving God. The Pharisees devoted themselves to technical issues of the law, such as detailed rules of Sabbath, while neglecting the real demands of the law. Jesus exposed their spiritual bankruptcy and hypocrisy. He knew that while they acted as if they were drawing closer to God, they were actually running away from Him and avoiding a real relationship with the living God. They feigned (pretended) obedience, but were in fact being disobedient.

During good times while working in the corporate world, staffs and other employees may be treated to a departmental lunch at some posh restaurant. When it is time to sit down together around a big table, even the weakest is fast enough to occupy a place far away from the boss. Normally, without fail, the places beside the boss will be empty. We “fear that it is dangerous to get too close to Him, as He might ask us questions we cannot or do not want to answer, or He may ask us to do things that we are unwilling or afraid to do. He might even ask us to give up precious possessions, habits, or relationships that are not right in His sight.

The one in power will talk about cooperation from everybody, nurturing others, and pledge to provide a friendly working environment, where everybody will work happily to meet the expectation of the company. Once back in the office, there is a 180° change in policy. Those who underperform may not have the privilege to learn and grow with the company anymore. Those who managed to attain a better position have no qualm about protecting it, even at the expense of stepping on others. Therefore as a form of safety, we follow those powerful on top at a distance. In this world, we are quick to learn and practice keeping the safety distant from crushing machines, sharp cutters, high voltage equipment, high speed cutters, and high powerful persons.

Being moulded throughout our life to be suspicious of anybody who are powerful, and not to get too close to be comfortable, we applied what we are best at – maintain a safety distance from the powerful God. God is definitely strong and all powerful. We therefore opt to follow Him at a distance. We want to be in control, and staying further away appear safer, and hopefully have the same amount of love from Him. “We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.

Jesus is unlike our earthly bosses who need to ensure a pool of highly efficient staffs, so that their operations can be Cheaper, Faster, and Better. Jesus emphasises more on righteousness, and obedience. The safest place for Him “to rescue us is not far away, but near Him”. He is our Saviour, and Defence Attorney who will represent our case before God. He already paid for the debt our sins (1 Peter 2:24). “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” Building a strong relationship with Him, and staying close to Him is the best option.
Picture posted by Nasung Church on 08 July 2018
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Reflect on Jonah's motivations for running from God and apply any insights to your own life. Are there any areas where you are running from God?

Reflect on Jonah's motivations for running from God and apply any insights to your own life.

Wouldn't it be nice to be tasked by God to do things that converge with what you like? If you enjoy talking to people, for example, wouldn't you be happy if God sends you to talk to someone? Or, if you enjoy travelling, God gives you work that involves a lot of travelling? It is easy to obey God when we also enjoy doing what He asks of us.



Jonah's motivations for running from God
PHOTO: Jonah's motivations for running from God
 It is easy to obey God when we also enjoy doing what He asks of us. But God doesn't always assign enjoyable tasks. Because He is often more interested in what sort of people we become when we carry out His tasks. It is like undergoing rigorous training in preparation for future service to Him.
Picture by Kim Justinen
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But God doesn't always assign enjoyable tasks. Why? Because He is often more interested in what sort of people we become when we carry out His tasks. This often means doing unpleasant tasks, or suffering unpleasant consequences when we obey Him. God may send a man who fears crowds to preach to one, or tell a man terrified of academic studies to undergo rigorous theological training in preparation for future service to Him.



Jonah's motivations for running from God
PHOTO: Jonah's motivations for running from God
It often means doing unpleasant tasks, or suffering unpleasant consequences when we obey Him.
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An Unpleasant Task [1]
In 2 King 14:25, we saw how Jonah was given a relatively easy task - prophesying good news for Israel. Now, however, he faced a real test of his mettle (ability to cope) as a prophet. It was no soothing message he had to deliver, but a hard truth. And his mission field was not familiar territory; he was being sent to Nineveh, a leading city of the Assyrians - the enemies of Israel.



An Unpleasant Task
PHOTO: An Unpleasant Task
Jonah faced a real test of his mettle (ability to cope) as a prophet. His mission field was not familiar territory; he was being sent to Nineveh, a leading city of the Assyrians - the enemies of Israel.
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http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y6sf7UC97jQ/UPhm8xObpCI/AAAAAAAAA3g/N3pkUOvYfyY/s1600/jonah-ran.jpg
http://hopefaithlife.blogspot.com/2013/01/running-away-jonah-story-1.html



Throughout much of the Old Testament, Assyria is described as a powerful nation. Its smaller neighbours often suffered under its oppressive yoke, and various Assyrian kings invaded and conquered Israel on several occasions.

In His message given to His prophet, God uses two words to describe Nineveh (Jonah 1:2). First, it was a "great" city. Its "greatness" refers to its political, cultural, and architectural splendour; merchants talked about how great Nineveh was for business, while foreign envoys diplomatically praised it to remain in powerful Assyria's good books. In calling it "great", God was just quoting what people of the time were saying about the city.



God uses two words to describe Nineveh.
PHOTO: God uses two words to describe Nineveh. First, it was a "great" city. Second, He called it a city full of "wickedness". Its "greatness" refers to its political, cultural, and architectural splendour; merchants talked about how great Nineveh was for business, while foreign envoys diplomatically praised it to remain in powerful Assyria's good books.
Picture posted by @cloudy01010 on 28 May 2018 at 1:00 PM
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God, however, saw Nineveh differently. He called it a city full of "wickedness". Nineveh was certainly not known for its morality, humanity, or compassion. A century later, the prophet Nahum would describe its wickedness thus: it was guilty of plotting evil against God (Nahum 1:11); cruelty and plundering in war (Nahum 2:12; 3:1, 19); violence and falsehood (Nahum 3:1); prostitution and witchcraft (Nahum 3:4); and commercial exploitation (Nahum 3:16). God saw through the superficial greatness of the city of Nineveh, through the thin veneer (thin decorative covering) that hid the rot within.



God saw Nineveh differently.
PHOTO: God saw Nineveh differently. He called it a city full of "wickedness". Nineveh was certainly not known for its morality, humanity, or compassion. God saw through the superficial greatness of the city of Nineveh, through the thin veneer (thin decorative covering) that hid the rot within.
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What might have been going through Jonah's mind when God sent him to preach against the wicked city of Nineveh? He was to deliver a hard truth, a message filled with warnings of fire and brimstone, and a reminder to its inhabitants to face up to their true condition. Who knows what would happen to him? Being sent right into the heart of the enemy with a message from God probably sounded like a suicide mission.

 

Jonah was to deliver a hard truth, a message filled with warnings of fire and brimstone, and a reminder to its inhabitants to face up to their true condition.
PHOTO: Jonah was to deliver a hard truth, a message filled with warnings of fire and brimstone, and a reminder to its inhabitants to face up to their true condition. Being sent right into the heart of the enemy with a message from God probably sounded like a suicide mission.
Picture posted by www.pic2.me on 09 July 2017

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Perhaps Jonah may have thought it best to let the enemies of his people meet a terrible end. Why risk his life for an enemy? After all, he was not being sent to his own people, in whose welfare he might have an interest. Why bother with Israel's enemies, who deserved God's Punishment? Besides, Jonah's hometown Gath Hepher was located in the north of Israel, the region most vulnerable to Assyrian attack. The town's inhabitants had long lived in fear of military invasion and Assyrian cruelty. Why bother to save such an enemy?



Jonah may have thought it best to let the enemies of his people meet a terrible end.
PHOTO: Jonah may have thought it best to let the enemies of his people meet a terrible end. Jonah's hometown Gath Hepher was located in the north of Israel, the region most vulnerable to Assyrian attack. The town's inhabitants had long lived in fear of military invasion and Assyrian cruelty. Why bother to save such an enemy?
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Jonah may also have had a lingering suspicious that God would relent from punishing Nineveh if its people repented. He alluded (recall) to this in Jonah 4:2, when he complained to God, "Isn't this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Knowing that God was compassionate, Jonah was afraid that God would forgive Israel's archenemy if he went to the Nineveh as instructed. That would be the worst possible result!



Jonah may also have had a lingering suspicious that God would relent from punishing Nineveh if its people repented.
PHOTO: Jonah may also have had a lingering suspicious that God would relent from punishing Nineveh if its people repented. "Isn't this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2)
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https://i.ytimg.com/vi/N7GOAZud8_I/maxresdefault.jpg - (maxresdefault_God relents.jpg)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7GOAZud8_I


I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many people in my life. People who are of different ages, status and stages of their life. I was brought up by my parents living in simple kampong, and the people I got to know were relatives and surrounding neighbours. During my youth there wasn't any sophisticated communication and transportation system. There was no Internet and the only news were through words of mouth, or through the radio and TV. Even that were also very limited and we are only aware of what is happening around us in our neighbourhood. Our natural enemies were the wild animals: cobra, python, rats and other pests that attacked our farm. Once in a while we might hear of thieves and armed robbers, but were insignificant to have any serious impact on our life. Human beings appeared to be safe and we could co-exist together peacefully.

 

I was brought up by my parents living in simple kampong, and the people I got to know were relatives and surrounding neighbours.
PHOTO: I was brought up by my parents living in simple kampong, and the people I got to know were relatives and surrounding neighbours. During my youth there wasn't any sophisticated communication and transportation system. There was no Internet and the only news were through words of mouth, or through the radio and TV. Human beings appeared to be safe and we could co-exist together peacefully.
Source: National Archives of Singapore
Picture posted by Adila Shahrin, TheSmartLocal.com on 05 April 2014

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http://thesmartlocal.com/read/singapore-as-you-have-never-seen-her-before



We attended schools, from primary to secondary till polytechnics. In our childhood days we were mostly innocent, although very playful and naughty at times. But we were not evil or scheming, and thinking of ways to extract benefits from others. But once in a while we fell into gambling temptation, and lost all our school pocket money. Our parents were poor and life were very tough for them to make ends meet. So a little pocket money means a lot to us, and we would be seriously reprimanded and punished, if they found out that we have indulged in illegal activities.



In our childhood days we were mostly innocent, although very playful and naughty at times.
PHOTO:  In our childhood days we were mostly innocent, although very playful and naughty at times. But we were not evil or scheming, and thinking of ways to extract benefits from others. Our parents were poor and life were very tough for them to make ends meet. So a little pocket money means a lot to us, and we would be seriously reprimanded and punished, if they found out that we have indulged in illegal activities.
Source: National Archives of Singapore
Picture posted by Adila Shahrin, TheSmartLocal.com on 05 April 2014

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https://thesmartlocal.com/images/easyblog_images/1478/b2ap3_thumbnail_Farming.jpg
http://thesmartlocal.com/read/singapore-as-you-have-never-seen-her-before



Gambling is a dishonest mean of making money, especially those managed by bookies and touts. Why? Because the odds is not 50:50. It is probably 1:1,000,000. Such people in this world were quick to devise schemes that profited dishonestly from our weakness (greed). It was and still is, an evil trade out there. We have experienced and witnessed the plights and sufferings of those who succumbed to gambling debts.

 

Gambling is a dishonest mean of making money, especially those managed by bookies and touts.
PHOTO: Gambling is a dishonest mean of making money, especially those managed by bookies and touts. Why? Because the odds is not 50:50. It is probably 1:1,000,000. It was and still is, an evil trade out there. We have experienced and witnessed the plights and sufferings of those who succumbed to gambling debts.
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Time past very fast and soon we have to serve our national service as soldiers in our army. There we discovered the harshness of the real world. During the army training we learned how impatient and unreasonable people could be. We lived in fear of our own instructors and commanders. We did not meet any other real "enemies". We thought we have gone through hell, but to our surprises, the normal civilian working world was not better. We learned the lessons of working with corporate crocodiles, and human vipers. Just like in the movies, the most venomous can appear friendly, helpful, and trustworthy, but always seductive, sinister, and with evil intentions. We were like the deer in the jungle being lured to co-operate in their plans that eventually brought us to the chopping board in the city.


Normal civilian working world was not better.
PHOTO:  Normal civilian working world was not better. We learned the lessons of working with corporate crocodiles, and human vipers.
Picture posted in Pinterest - Killer Crocodile (1989) - Jarvis City. Out of Africa: The incredible tribal fashion show inspired by Mother Nature.

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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/01/more-protection-for-walkway-at-sungei.html

 

Normal civilian working world is also infested with human vipers.
PHOTO: Normal civilian working world is also infested with human vipers.  Just like in the movies, the most venomous can appear friendly, helpful, and trustworthy, but always seductive, sinister, and with evil intentions. We were like the deer in the jungle being lured to co-operate in their plans that eventually brought us to the chopping board in the city.
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Our enemies have evolved. They become more cunning, and even more brutal when armed with modern day’s technologies. They have the abilities to prey on our weakness, trap us, and go for the kill. Scammers are our enemies, but they are difficult to identify. They could be our close, and apparently trustworthy colleagues when we are still beneficial to them. Once we are no longer useful, or have become their "burden", we can expect distressful treatments. There will be very little love left, and we could end up with situations similar to Jonah's - hating the enemies. Working with such people is like a "suicide mission". "We may have thought it best to let our enemies meet a terrible end."



Our enemies have evolved.
PHOTO: Our enemies have evolved. They become more cunning, and even more brutal when armed with modern day’s technologies. They have the abilities to prey on our weakness, trap us, and go for the kill. There will be very little love left, and we could end up with situations similar to Jonah's - hating the enemies. Working with such people is like a "suicide mission". "We may have thought it best to let our enemies meet a terrible end."
Picture posted by canvart.club
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http://canvart.club/atmose-11_25_11.html


We are to know that "to err is human - forgiveness is divine". We too, make mistakes and commit sins, and God by His grace and mercy has forgiven us (Isaiah 43:25). We too, should do likewise and forgive others, no matter how difficult it may be. However, we must remain vigilant, and not to fall into scamming traps. But just like Jonah, we should repent and be obedient to the calling from the Bible: to love one another (John 13:34). Forgive and let God take care of the rest (Romans 1:18). "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32).



We are to know that 'to err is human - forgiveness is divine'.
PHOTO: We are to know that "to err is human - forgiveness is divine". We too, make mistakes and commit sins, and God by His grace and mercy has forgiven us (Isaiah 43:25). We too, should do likewise and forgive others, no matter how difficult it may be. However, we must remain vigilant, and not to fall into scamming traps.
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Are there any areas where you are running from God?
Are You Running Away from God? [1]
Have you noticed how people tend to leave the front pews empty in church? People have different reasons for running away from God. Perhaps they fear that it is dangerous to get too close to Him, as He might ask them questions they cannot or do not want to answer, or He may ask them to do things that they are unwilling or afraid to do. He might even ask them to give up precious possessions, habits, or relationships that are not right in His sight.

 

Are there any areas where you are running from God?
PHOTO: Are there any areas where you are running from God?
People tend to leave the front pews empty in church. People have different reasons for running away from God. Perhaps they fear that it is dangerous to get too close to Him, as He might ask them questions they cannot or do not want to answer, or He may ask them to do things that they are unwilling or afraid to do. He might even ask them to give up precious possessions, habits, or relationships that are not right in His sight.
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They also run away from God in different ways: by keeping their distance, by freezing in disobedience, or by indulging in false piety.

Some people try to follow Christ at a distance. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter "follow him at a distance" (Matthew 26:58). Perhaps he truly wanted to follow Jesus, but was afraid of what might happen to him if he stayed too close. Self-preservation seems to be the overriding motive when people try to keep a safe distance from God. But this is foolish. The safest place is not far away from God, but near Him, in the shadow of His wings. As Psalm 91:1-2 says:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.

 

Some people try to follow Christ at a distance.
PHOTO: Some people try to follow Christ at a distance. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter "follow him at a distance" (Matthew 26:58). Perhaps he truly wanted to follow Jesus, but was afraid of what might happen to him if he stayed too close. Self-preservation seems to be the overriding motive when people try to keep a safe distance from God. But this is foolish. The safest place is not far away from God, but near Him, in the shadow of His wings.
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It is also foolish to think that we can preserve ourselves by running away from God, because Jesus taught that in trying to save our lives, we end up losing them. Clinging on to life takes us away from the God who gave it to us, and this ironically means we will lose it. Jesus said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" (Luke 9:23-25).



Clinging on to life takes us away from the God who gave it to us, and this ironically means we will lose it.
PHOTO: Clinging on to life takes us away from the God who gave it to us, and this ironically means we will lose it. "Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" (Luke 9:23-25).
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We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him. Preacher J. H. Jowett once said: [9]

We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnics, but always through the grim contentions of the battlefield. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood . . . We are not "born again" into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest.

 

We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.

PHOTO: We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.
Sadly, when we look deep into the mirror of our souls, we may realize that we are the ones who have some unhealthy tendencies that God wants to change.
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Some people run away from God by freezing in disobedience. They live with what they consider "small" or "respectable" sins, believing that they don't need to be rescued from them, or that these sins are not as bad as the "big" ones like murder and adultery. [10] But Jesus did warn us about such sins - they hinder us from growing in our relationship with God.

 

Some people run away from God by freezing in disobedience.
PHOTO: Some people run away from God by freezing in disobedience. They live with what they consider "small" or "respectable" sins, believing that they don't need to be rescued from them, or that these sins are not as bad as the "big" ones like murder and adultery. But Jesus did warn us about such sins - they hinder us from growing in our relationship with God.
Satan In Paradise Lost by John Milton
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Then there are those who, like the Pharisees, indulge in false piety and construct religious scaffolding to avoid facing the full implications of trusting and loving God. The Pharisees devoted themselves to technical issues of the law, such as detailed rules of Sabbath, while neglecting the real demands of the law. Jesus exposed their spiritual bankruptcy and hypocrisy. He knew that while they acted as if they were drawing closer to God, they were actually running away from Him and avoiding a real relationship with the living God. They feigned (pretended) obedience, but were in fact being disobedient.



There are those who, like the Pharisees, indulge in false piety and construct religious scaffolding to avoid facing the full implications of trusting and loving God.
PHOTO: There are those who, like the Pharisees, indulge in false piety and construct religious scaffolding to avoid facing the full implications of trusting and loving God. They acted as if they were drawing closer to God, they were actually running away from Him and avoiding a real relationship with the living God. They feigned (pretended) obedience, but were in fact being disobedient.
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Is there hope for such people who run away from God? Can they be rescued from their disobedience? The short answer is yes. There is no depth of sinfulness beyond God's reach. We are always on His radar screen, and He is ever ready to rescue us if we acknowledge Him and His ways.

God has compassion for those who have strayed away, even when they think they are better off without Him. He called shepherds in Israel to look for the sheep who strayed from His flock. And when the shepherds themselves strayed, He took it upon himself to be the divine shepherd looking for them (Ezekiel 34:1-16). In the parable of the lost sheep, we read about the shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to look for the one that was lost (Luke 15:3-7). Whether on a ship being tossed about by angry seas or deep underwater in a fish's stomach, one can always receive God's love and grace.

Like the prodigal son, we can always turn back to the Father - He is only a prayer away.


God has compassion for those who have strayed away, even when they think they are better off without Him.
PHOTO: God has compassion for those who have strayed away, even when they think they are better off without Him. He called shepherds in Israel to look for the sheep who strayed from His flock. And when the shepherds themselves strayed, He took it upon himself to be the divine shepherd looking for them (Ezekiel 34:1-16).
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During good times while working in the corporate world, staffs and other employees may be treated to a departmental lunch at some posh restaurant. When it is time to sit down together around a big table, even the weakest is fast enough to occupy a place far away from the boss. Normally, without fail, the places beside the boss will be empty. We “fear that it is dangerous to get too close to Him, as He might ask us questions we cannot or do not want to answer, or He may ask us to do things that we are unwilling or afraid to do. He might even ask us to give up precious possessions, habits, or relationships that are not right in His sight.



It is very stressful having to be next to the boss for any event.
PHOTO: It is very stressful having to be next to the boss for any event. We feel tense and uncomfortable, wanting to scream, because it is sickening to see the boss, especially during our personal time. Enough is enough. During office hour is already more than enough. So even the weakest is fast enough to occupy a place far away from the boss.
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The one in power will talk about cooperation from everybody, nurturing others, and pledge to provide a friendly working environment, where everybody will work happily to meet the expectation of the company. Once back in the office, there is a 180° change in policy. Those who underperform may not have the privilege to learn and grow with the company anymore. Those who managed to attain a better position have no qualm about protecting it, even at the expense of stepping on others. Therefore as a form of safety, we follow those powerful on top at a distance. In this world, we are quick to learn and practice keeping the safety distant from crushing machines, sharp cutters, high voltage equipment, high speed cutters, and high powerful persons.



Once back in the office, there is a 180° change in policy.
PHOTO: Once back in the office, there is a 180° change in policy. Those who underperform may not have the privilege to learn and grow with the company anymore. Those who managed to attain a better position have no qualm about protecting it, even at the expense of stepping on others.
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Being moulded throughout our life to be suspicious of anybody who are powerful, and not to get too close to be comfortable, we applied what we are best at – maintain a safety distance from the powerful God. God is definitely strong and all powerful. We therefore opt to follow Him at a distance. We want to be in control, and staying further away appear safer, and hopefully have the same amount of love from Him. “We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.



Being moulded throughout our life to be suspicious of anybody who are powerful, and not to get too close to be comfortable, we applied what we are best at – maintain a safety distance from the powerful God.
PHOTO: Being moulded throughout our life to be suspicious of anybody who are powerful, and not to get too close to be comfortable, we applied what we are best at – maintain a safety distance from the powerful God.We need to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him.
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Jesus is unlike our earthly bosses who need to ensure a pool of highly efficient staffs, so that their operations can be Cheaper, Faster, and Better. Jesus emphasises more on righteousness, and obedience. The safest place for Him “to rescue us is not far away, but near Him”. He is our Saviour, and Defence Attorney who will represent our case before God. He already paid for the debt our sins (1 Peter 2:24). “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” Building a strong relationship with Him, and staying close to Him is the best option.



Jesus emphasises more on righteousness, and obedience.
PHOTO: Jesus emphasises more on righteousness, and obedience. The safest place for Him “to rescue us is not far away, but near Him”. He is our Saviour, and Defence Attorney who will represent our case before God. He already paid for the debt our sins (1 Peter 2:24). Building a strong relationship with Him, and staying close to Him is the best option.
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Dear Lord, Please help us to overcome the motivations for running from God, especially when call to do good services for enemies. Help us to overcome like Jonah did, repent and become obedient again. With very little love left for our enemies, and working with such people is like a suicide mission, we may have thought it best to let our enemies meet a terrible end. Please help us to remember that we too, make mistakes and commit sins, and God by His grace and mercy has forgiven us. We therefore, should do likewise and forgive others, no matter how difficult it may be.<br>Just like Jonah, we should repent and be obedient to the calling from the Bible: to love one another. Forgive and let God take care of the rest. Please help us get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave us.<br>Please help us to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him. Also we need help not to run away from God by freezing in disobedience, or by indulging in false piety. We are to learn that all sins hinder us from growing in our relationship with God. As there is no depth of sinfulness beyond God's reach, rescue us by having us acknowledge Him and His ways, so that we can receive God's love and grace.<br>Through Lord Jesus Christ we pray, amen!

PHOTO: "Dear Lord, Please help us to overcome the motivations for running from God, especially when call to do good services for enemies. Help us to overcome like Jonah did, repent and become obedient again. With very little love left for our enemies, and working with such people is like a suicide mission, we may have thought it best to let our enemies meet a terrible end. Please help us to remember that we too, make mistakes and commit sins, and God by His grace and mercy has forgiven us. We therefore, should do likewise and forgive others, no matter how difficult it may be.

Just like Jonah, we should repent and be obedient to the calling from the Bible: to love one another. Forgive and let God take care of the rest. Please help us get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave us.

Please help us to reject the idea that we can follow Jesus from a safe distance and avoid trouble and pain as we love and serve Him. Also we need help not to run away from God by freezing in disobedience, or by indulging in false piety. We are to learn that all sins hinder us from growing in our relationship with God. As there is no depth of sinfulness beyond God's reach, rescue us by having us acknowledge Him and His ways, so that we can receive God's love and grace.

Through Lord Jesus Christ we pray, amen!
"
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Reflection - Jonah Runs, God Pursues - Running from God
Question from source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 2, Question 1, Page 29.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012





Also from the same author, Robert M. Solomon


"Faithful to the end", A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon

'Faithful to the end', A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon<br>
Reflection - Faithful to the end (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2017/06/reflection-faithful-to-end-links.html



"Finding rest for the soul" Responding to Jesus' Invitation in Matthew 11:28-29, © 2016 by Robert M. Solomon

Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/10/reflection-finding-rest-for-soul-links.html


 

Reference
[1] From "God in Pursuit" Lessons from the Book of Jonah, Copyright © 2017 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-801-6, Part I: Jonah 1:1-17, Chapter 2 "Jonah Runs, God Pursues", Page 17-20, 26-28.

[9] L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1978), 70-71 (March 3).

[10] See Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007). Bridges deals with generally tolerated sins such as pride, judgmentalism, anxiety, discontentment, and impatience.


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2 King 14:25 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+King+14%3A25&version=NIV

Ephesians 4:31-32 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4%3A31-32&version=NIV

Ezekiel 34:1-16 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+34%3A1-16&version=NIV

Isaiah 43:25 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+43%3A25&version=NIV

John 13:34 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+13%3A34&version=NIV

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Jonah 1:2 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+1%3A2&version=NIV

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Matthew 26:58 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+26%3A58&version=NIV

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