Lesson 13: May 28, 2017
God’s Pervasive Love: Jonah 4
Teaching Strategy: Explore how Jonah’s anger grew out of the limitations of his perspective. Compare and contrast this story with others in Scripture (such as Luke 15) where someone takes offense at the extent of God’s grace. Discuss why people who have experienced God’s grace sometimes resist the idea that God’s blessing is extended to others whom they do not see as deserving (e.g., the Ninevites or the prodigal son). How can believers come to see those they might have written off as “enemies” the way God sees them?
In Jonah 4 Jonah expresses his anger at God for showing compassion to the Ninevites, saying that he fled to Tarshish in the first place (chapter 1) because he knew that God is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (v.2b). God rejected Jonah’s complaint and used a kind of “living parable” to remind him that God’s redeeming love is not limited, but pervasive.
How might some believers today – like Jonah – lack compassion or try to limit the reach of God’s love? Who are the people from whom they might want to withhold compassion? Who are the people they believe are undeserving or should be kept outside the circle of God’s love? Would evidence of God’s pervasive love make them angry?
- Non-violent drug offenders? Attorney General Sessions recently announced a new directive to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” a major reversal of criminal justice reforms enacted under the Obama administration. Democrats – and at least 1 Republic criticize Sessions’ new directive on criminal charges.
- Gay and lesbian Christians? Following 14 months of study the Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas last fall voted to give full acceptance to LGBT members, an action not supported by the Texas Baptists
- Refugees? In a series of articles about the Syrian refugee crisis, World Vision International reported the results of a recent survey showing that While Aleppo and Mosul Burn, American Christians Are Less Likely To Pray for, Help Refugees Than a Year Ago
- On Thursday of each week, a new “world news in prayer” is published on worldinprayer.org. The prayer incorporates the news of the week from around the world with offerings of thanksgiving, confession, and/or petition. Look for places where God’s love is most needed and where God’s love is most evident.