I just finished preaching on Jonah 2, and, per usual, was given some from very helpful feedback from some of my friends and co-laborers. One of the things that they mentioned was, "it didn't feel very hopeful at the end..." which I found was odd, considering the passage is a prayer of thanksgiving.
Upon reflecting on the feedback, I'm realizing that there is something often missing in my Christian walk as I pursue Christ and seek to kill my sin.
I think I often want to give a grave challenge (both to myself and to others) of how we shouldn't live, and how we should live, and to stop messing around. There's a heart of judgment and pride in there, and as I think of how that comes across, it makes believing in Jesus seem like this crushing, religious, only the strong survive-type faith.
That's not what I intended to communicate in the talk I gave, but in my tone and delivery, I think I was far more grave and serious, when Jonah 2 is clearly about God's salvation and the thankfulness Jonah has from being rescued from death and his own sin. He's willing to turn away from idolatry and sacrifice to His God with Thanksgiving (vs. 8-9)
This isn't the main point of the passage, but I'm convicted by this point none the less: where's the joy in fighting sin so that I can be closer to Jesus?
I often deceive myself, thinking I have to give stuff up to be a better Christian. In doing so, I completely miss the joy of the Gospel.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Sin isn't just an annoyance, but the apostle Paul says that it brings about death! It's running away from God. But following Christ gives life!
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)
I'm not saying that the Christian life should be easy. It's hard to give up sin. But, whenever we feel like fighting sin is eating our vegetables, we need to repent. Following Christ is not "eating your vegetables," it's the filet mignon at the finest steakhouse. It should produce more joy than anything else. When we talk about how God rescues from our sin patterns, and how he should spur us on, we should be challenged. But, we should also be encouraged, excited, and joyful. Because as we see the brokenness of our sin, we should be reminded that we are forgiven. As we see God convict us, we should be reminded that God is at work in our hearts. And as we repent and change, we should see that we are increasingly leaving the things that cause us death, and traveling towards the things that bring us life. Ultimately, we should rejoice that the creator of the universe wants to be in relationship with us!
Isn't that something to rejoice over?