January 14, 2011

The Inevitable Sacrifice

Jonah 1

They took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
Jonah 1:15


Witnessing can be risky business. Jonah knew that. It would cost him to get God’s message to the ruthless Ninevites. Did those Assyrian lions really deserve a visit from a dove of peace? Jonah didn’t think so, and he ran the other way.

The story reminds us that God’s mission always involves sacrifice and risk-taking. It taxes our resources. It takes us far from ordinary comforts. It makes us face our own fears and inadequacies. But we are also changed by the mission. We become people of faith and fire, closer to God’s heart. As someone said, we become fishers of people, not keepers of an aquarium.

The frightened sailors wondered, “Who’s responsible for this storm? Is there a price to be paid to save our lives?” Their ship was an emblem of the human race, pitching in waves of superstition, selfishness, and death. Finally Jonah took responsibility. He had to sacrifice himself so that the raging seas were calmed and mercy would shine on the lost. Remember, though, that Jonah’s sacrifice was marred by mistrust and disobedience. Christ’s sacrifice was not.

If you have a lost friend who is open to it, explain that life is often like sailing on the sea. Then share the story of Jesus and his victory—the ultimate “sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:39-40). Tell your friend how because of Christ you have peace in every storm.

Lord, thank you for saving us. Thank you for sending Jesus and for his sacrifice for us. Send us to others, we pray. Amen.

About the author — Norm Prenger

Rev. Norm Prenger is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary. He pastored churches in Alberta and British Columbia before he was disabled by a heart attack and a post-operative stroke. He now lives with his wife, Gwen, near Thunder Bay, Ontario. He enjoys fishing, writing, drumming, and encouraging his fishing partners and neighbors to follow Jesus.

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