Saturday, 21 January 2012

Jonah and Self-Righteousness

In a recent message from Inward/Outward Anne Lamott is quoted, "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Idolatry and hatred, and idolatry and hatred and self-righteousness work together. Girardian Reflections has some useful comments on tomorrow's readings from the RCL, in particular the thread running through the Jonah story and Jesus' call to repent and believe in the good news.  (Mk 1:15) Jonah, we remember, has fled from the presence of God because he knows God is a God of mercy (4:2) God has relented from judgement against the pagan, idolatrous Nineveh because the Ninevites repented. Jonah's idol is not so merciful. And Jonah would prefer to keep his idol rather than be at the service of the real God. But forced into reluctant service of God's mercy all Jonah can manage is a sulky child's half-hearted effort.

It is interesting to note that Jonah is the one who does not repent by the end of the story; the idolatrous Ninevites do repent. The Book of Jonah is warning us of the idolatry that refuses to allow God's mercy to go where God wishes it to go, and the wilful disobedience that refuses to be a messenger of this mercy. We can read the conflict between Jesus and his opponents in the light of the Book of Jonah. Jesus calls people to repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom, the kingdom of lost sheep, forgiving fathers, good Samaritans, etc. A call to repent of our idolatry that keeps us from embracing the mercy offered to us and spreading the word of that mercy to any who have the ears to listen.

The enemy of faith in the real God has always been idolatry.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Love it. Thanks

cecil said...

The 10am sermon was excellent!
Now if only people will remember the sermon and act upon it.

cecil said...

Found on the internet
"Nothing others do is because of you," the page reads. "What others say
and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the
opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless
suffering."

P.s. Another good sermon this Sunday. 3 in a row, scary.