Welcome to the final week of our summer series When God Doesn’t Make Sense. This four-week series explores four stories from the Minor Prophets. This weekend, Senior Pastor Jeff Manion walks us through the story of Jonah. God asks Jonah to take a message to a city infamous for its level of depravity. Through the story, we learn what Jonah understands about God that makes him hightail it in the other direction.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Encouragement is a huge part of caring for each other well. Take a few minutes to go around the group and say a word or two of encouragement to each person identifying something they do well or a positive aspect of their character.
Share Part of Your Story.
What’s a trip you took that turned out completely different than you had planned?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Have someone retell the story of Jonah and read Jonah 4 aloud. What do you notice in these verses? What stands out?
The Mercy of God.
In Exodus 34.6, God describes himself as “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (ESV). What does it mean that God is merciful and gracious? How does God show his mercy to Jonah?
God shows his mercy to the people of Nineveh in two ways. He first sends them a message. Then when they turn from wrongdoing, he doesn’t punish them. What is merciful about God sending them a message? What do you think would have happened if they hadn’t changed?
The Jonah Syndrome.
The Jonah story revolves around mercy. God is merciful and Jonah doesn’t like it. Why do you think Jonah doesn’t like the fact that God is merciful to the people of Nineveh?
Jonah seems to understand God’s anger and his mercy. The rub is Jonah wants the people of Nineveh to experience God’s anger and not his mercy. He’s happy when he receives mercy but angry when it goes to the wrong people. Who are the groups or types of people we want to experience God’s anger but not his mercy?
We often have “The Jonah Syndrome” wanting God to extend mercy to us but not wanting to extend mercy to others. Why do you think it’s easy for us to have this double standard?
The Jesus Way.
“The Jesus Way” is Mercy In, Mercy Out. What are some ways Jesus showed this?
There will come a time in our life when God asks us to show mercy to someone who hurt us and we won’t want to. Why can it be so hard to forgive?
God calls us to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4.32). How might remembering the forgiveness of Jesus help us forgive others? How can we lean on God to help us forgive those people we “can’t”?
Lewis Smedes, in his book The Art of Forgiving, says there are three things on the path of forgiveness.
- We discover the humanity of the person.
- We surrender our right to get even.
- We wish that person well.
What would each part actually look like? Which stage might be the hardest?
Are there any people in your life you need to forgive? How can the group help walk with you as you take steps to forgive?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Who Needs What We Have?
This question is an important element of our small group philosophy. We like all our small groups to be regularly considering who needs what their group offers. Maybe this means extending an invitation for someone to join the group. Perhaps it is considering whether there is someone in the group whose NEXT STEP is to offer to lead a group in the fall. Take some time today to discuss this question.
Last week, your group considered ways to encourage people in your workplace and neighborhood. Were you able to follow through and encourage people? What response did you receive?
Download a printable PDF here.