Text: Jonah 4:6-11
Our sermon this week is addressing the never-ending challenge of separating our religion from our culture. We’ll be looking at the story of Jonah, a story loved and revered by Jews, Moslems, and Christians alike. Jonah was a godly man whom God chose for the task of saving thousands of people. And Jonah does just that by preaching the shortest sermon recorded in the Bible.
He says, “40 days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.” That’s it. Eight words long. No sooner does he say this one sentence than the whole city repents on the spot. The king orders a fast and everyone heads out the door to change into sackcloth and put ashes on their foreheads. Any preacher would be astonished and gratified that so little effort saved so many people. Not Jonah, because as religious as he is, he can’t shed his cultural wrappings. He may be Jewish by faith, but culturally he’s a citizen of the northern kingdom of Israel and as such, hates everything Assyrian.
Our culture, like our gender, race, sexual orientation, our political bent, and a host of other factors comes from the raw material of who we are and can’t be shed like an old shirt, nor is God asking us to do that. We must, however, recognize that our identity above all other labels is “child of God.” And by knowing that, we can more easily recognize when other parts of us are pulling us away from our true nature in Christ.
Join with us this Sunday.