Lesson 12: May 21, 2017
Teaching Strategy: Discuss repentance, forgiveness and God’s saving power – as they were experienced by the Ninevites and as they might be experienced today. Who or where is Jonah preaching against evil ways of living in our world today? Of what do we most need to repent? What might it look like if we were to repent – as individuals or as communities? In what ways have we experienced God’s forgiveness? How might we experience forgiveness anew – individually and together? How can the power of God’s love enable people to live together in peace and wholeness today?
In Jonah 3 the prophet is again asked to go to preach to the city of Nineveh. This time he heeds God’s call, and announces God’s impending judgment. The people of Nineveh believed and repented. The king himself decreed that, “All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands” (v.8b). When God saw that the people had “turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind” (v.10a). God did not inflict the punishment that Jonah had proclaimed.
There is abundant evidence that more than two thousand years after the time of the prophets the world is still broken. At home and around the world people, communities, and nations are alienated from one another and from God. Whether in the form of hatred, violence, war, or destruction of the earth itself, evil ways of living continue. The links below point to just a few examples. Participants can be invited to add their own. Then discuss the questions above. What does the story found in Jonah 3 tell us about repentance, forgiveness, and the power of God’s love to transform our lives today?
- An article in April about violence against women: Domestic Violence: Nearly Three US Women Killed Every Day
- A recent analysis (February) of the deep political divisions in our country: America’s Civic War: How Long Can America Stand Divided?
- A March article about one mayor willing to oppose the violent tactics of the Philippines President: Between Duterte and a Death Squad, A Philippine Mayor Fights Drug-War Violence
- The NCC General Secretary’s April address, a commitment to work with others around the globe “to build societies of peace and justice where religious liberty is honored and where we strive together for the common good”: General Secretary Jim Winkler’s Speech to Cairo Peace Conference