The thing about people is that they can be awful. No matter how saintly a person is, it seems like everyone has that one personality trait that they can’t stand. (Un)fortunately for us God doesn’t seem to play by the same rules. People we hate are also the same people God loves. This week, we’ll look at the prophet Jonah, a person who was supposed to speak for God, but was forced to overcome his hatred for others. How might we allow our dislikes and biases get in the way of God’s redeeming love?

 

Icebreaker

Was there anyone growing up (or now) who you couldn’t stand? Why?

 

Scripture Reading

Jonah 1:1-16 & 4:1-11

 

Discussion Questions

Read Jonah 1:1-16.

  1. What strikes you as interesting about this passage?
  2. How do Jonah’s actions surprise you as someone who is labelled a “prophet?”
  3. What is significant about the sailors actions in this story?
    Leader’s Note: Ironically, Jonah unwillingly becomes a vessel for God’s message to the sailors. Through his disobedience, the sailors come to know the reality of God and become followers of Yahweh.
  4. Have you ever seen examples of God using someone to proclaim his message even if they were a poor vessel for that message? What does that say about God? How do you deal with those sort of situations?
  5. Have there been times in your life where you ran from what you think God wanted? Why did you run?What happened?

Read Jonah 4:1-11.
Note: This passage takes place after Jonah has reluctantly preached in Ninevah and the people have repented of their ways.

  1. What strikes you as interesting about this passage?
  2. What is God trying to communicate through the plant that he causes to spring up? Why does Jonah have trouble with this message?
  3. What do you think of Jonah’s response to God’s compassion? Have you ever felt that way?
  4. What biases and hatreds do you think gets in the way of the church’s witness today? How could those be overcome?
  5. What dislikes or biases get in the way of your own witness to God? What would it look like to work to overcome those biases?

 

 

Diving Deeper: REPENTANCE

Read Jonah 3:1-10.

  1. How do the people’s response to God’s word compare to Jonah’s in Chapters 1 and 4?
  2. What is repentance, and what does it mean to repent before God? Is it necessary? Why?
  3. Jonah and the Ninevites offer two responses to the offer of repentance. Why is repentance sometimes easy? Why is it hard?

 

Helpful Resources

The Reunion Team