Spiritually coming to one’s senses

By Dave Henning / August 18, 2023

“Jonah starts to take responsibility for the situation not because he’s looking at God but because he’s looking at [the sailors].  And this is significant. . . .  Often the first step in coming to one’s senses spiritually is thinking of somebody — anybody — other than ourselves.”- Timothy Keller

“[Jonah] said to them, ‘Lift me up and hurl me into the sea, then the sea will calm down for you, for I declare it is on my account that this great storm has come upon you.’ “- Jonah 1:12

In Chapter 5 (“The Pattern of Love”) of The Prodigal Prophet, Timothy Keller looks at Jonah’s statement in Jonah 1:6.  First, Pastor Keller wonders, why does Jonah say this?  Is Jonah choosing to submit to God or to rebel against God?  Pastor Keller thinks the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Most significantly, the author states, notice that Jonah says nothing about God.  Rather, he directs his concern elsewhere – to the sailors.  Thus, Jonah begins to take responsibility for his actions.  Leslie Allen writes in the following in The Book of Joel.  The character “of the seamen has evidently banished [Jonah’s] nonchalant indifference and touched his conscience.”

As a result, Pastor Keller notes, Jonah’s pity arouses in him what the author calls one of the most primordial of human institutions.  Namely, the truest pattern of substitutionary love.  With this love, no matter the cost — whether of money, time, or energy — is your gain.  Above all, such actions serve to make us stronger, wiser, happier, and deeper.  Hence, such loss fails to diminish us.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller exhorts:

“We should not be surprised then, that when God came into the world in Jesus Christ, he loved us like this.  Indeed, we can imagine that the reason this pattern of love is so transformative in human life is because we are created in God’s image, and this is how he loves.”

Today’s question: At what times in your life have you found yourself spiritually coming to your senses?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The cup of divine justice”

About the author

Dave Henning

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