Idolatry, an Army, and Apologetics

This morning during corporate worship our pastor covered Jonah 3:10-4:4

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

Why is Jonah so angry?

First, Jonah is angry because he does not believe the Ninevites deserve the grace of God. In that, Jonah has quickly forgotten that he and his people were just as undeserving of the grace of God. Second, Jonah was not too keen on the idea that the Ninevites would be shown the aforementioned grace and by extension be counted among God’s chosen people.

Now I am not going to get into an exposition of this text – however I will link back to the Sermon once it’s published on SermonAudio – but what I want to zero in on is this notion of idolatry.

The special worship song today was “Break Every Chain”.  This is a very powerful song of the power of Christ in a believer’s life to overcome chains by God’s grace. One line, however, struck a chord in me (ahead of the Sermon). That line: “There’s an army rising up….to break every chain”

For an army to rise up, there must be troops. The question I would ask each local body around the world is – “Where are your troops?”

Jonah served many idols. One was the idol of nation; in that he believed that his people were better and superior to all other people-groups. The notion that God would show grace to another people-group angered Jonah.

Our circumstances, you see, reveal our idols, just like they did for Jonah. And like Jonah, our emotional response reveals when those idols are threatened. When our idols are threatened, anger is an emotional response that usually rises rather quickly to the top, as it did for Jonah.

I believe a dream of many in the church is to see that army rise up. For the multitudes to gather together and in one voice behind all of the fervor of love and of adoration, worship the King. And then for that army to go out to tell the best news that there is. But is that dream just a dream? Is it something we only long for on Sunday’s? Where is the army?

The truth is that there is an army in America. They meet together and with one voice shout to the top of their lungs, arms lifted high, with love and praise; this is a moment looked forward to all week; they show up early in anticipation; they leave late in celebration and then go out to spread the good news. But this good news isn’t what the aforementioned song was referring to. This “good news” is about each person’s favorite College Football team.

If someone speaks ill-will toward “your team” what is your initial response? Is it anger? Meet an idol.

Do you show up on Sunday’s and then Monday through Saturday salivate at the thought of “your team” showing up and winning a game? Meet an idol.

I do admit this is a broad stroke and I do not submit that what I have just described is prevalent in 10 out of 10 self-proclaiming Christians. However, if we are honest, I believe the percentage is much greater on the side of the religion of sports than it is in the one true religion.

One will research and read on their favorite team to make a case for why their team is better than the other team? They will follow the recruiting wars waging and tell you why this recruit is better than that recruit.  They provide statistics, reasons, and arguments for their favorite team. You see, it is very simple. Whether it is sports or country or that TV you cannot afford (so you get angry) or your wife or kids or whatever your idol may be – we are all apologists…except for where we need apologists the most.

Christian Apologetics equips you with positive reasons for believing in Christianity, equips you to defend against attacks of Christianity, and equips believers who doubt their faith. Is there anything more important than making a case for Christianity?

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..” (John 14:6)

This post is not making a case for Christianity (you can read more on that here, here, and here ). This post is making a case for making a case. Because if you truly believe that Jesus is the only way and that no one will come to the Father except through him, that makes Christianity exclusive of all other religions or thoughts. He said he is the only way!

When you look at the army rising up for Christ, what you will find is a genuine belief of that singular truth. For an army to be an army there must be troops: troops ready for the fight and prepared to make a case for something they desperately believe in.

Evaluate yourself and your idols (myself included). There is nothing wrong with enjoying football. But if football – or anything else – is our idol (meaning something that takes the place in importance of God), then we must flee, because we must do everything to – and for – the Glory of God.