Over the last five weeks in youth Sunday school we have been studying a series of messages titled "Stepping Out". The premise of the messages was obedience. The two that stuck out the most were last weeks lesson on Paul while writing 2 Timothy and this past Sunday's lesson on Jonah.
Both men were called to serve God in very similar ways...they were to preach the name of God to the pagan nations. Both Jonah and Paul had very similar out comes in the end...many many many people were converted and began glorifying God. However their means were very different.
Jonah was of course called to Nineveh (which is in Turkey - the far east of the Mediterranean Sea), while Paul was called to go back to Jerusalem. Jonah refused to go to the pagan city and went to Tarshish instead (which is in Spain - the far west of the Mediterranean). We all know how the story ends up. Jonah is swallowed up by a big fish, vomited out three days later, begrudgingly goes to Nineveh, preaches the word, hundreds of thousands are turned back to God, he wants God to destroy the city, he pouts, he whines, and he cries, and he doesn't get his way. Jonah's lack of obedience causes lots of problems for him, however one very huge side effect that i noticed yesterday blew me away.
Paul on the other hand, was begged by his close friends not to return to Jerusalem. His friends, and even Paul, knew that his return to Jerusalem would mean certain death. Paul, despite the warnings and pleas, was obedient to God's call and went to Jerusalem. He was captured, jailed, and later executed. While in the prison Paul penned 2 Timothy. A letter with a very interesting twist that stuck out to me yesterday.
Paul and Jonah had decisions to make, they could be obedient or disobedient. A very interesting outcome to obedience is contentment. Paul's letter to Timothy is a peaceful writing that reflects on a life well lived. Paul, in the face of death, is satisfied with his outcome. Shortly after writing the letter, Paul is beheaded and turned up-side-down to allow all the blood to run out of his body. Yet he is peaceful knowing that he has "fought the good fight, he has finished the course, he has kept the faith". Whereas Jonah...Jonah was just pissed off and not happy about anything.
I know this sounds like common sense, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. If I am experiencing lack of contentment then maybe I am practicing disobedience...just a thought!