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Review: Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life

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Colin Smith makes the book of Jonah sound really strange. What kind of Christian writes a story in which every single supporting character becomes a believer, but the main character is angry enough to die? What reluctant preacher rebels against God because God is making his ministry too successful? What sort of Christian would run away from God's call?

Jonah is that kind of Christian, and he wrote that kind of story. As Smith points out, all believers are like a house during the remodeling process. Every room is partially renovated, but no room is finished. So with all parts of our being and personality: Sin remains, but the Holy Spirit is gradually rebuilding us into Christ's image, just as He rebuilt Jonah.

The book is a series of sermons Smith preached to his congregation in Chicago. We, says Smith, are not so different from Jonah after all. We too resist God's call. We too are more interested in our own way than in God's way. Smith (very convictingly) points out this problem, but he also presents the solution Jonah found: Salvation is of the Lord. Smith doesn't back away from the high-octane Calvinism he finds in this phrase. God would not let Jonah go, because He had decided to save him and use him no matter what.

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Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life (Christian Focus, 2012) is ultimately about our response to the grace of God. Will we, like Jonah, hate God for His compassion? Or will we come to share that compassion? In the final analysis, says Smith, our consolation is that Jonah failed to live a God-centered life-and God rescued him from self-absorption. Salvation is from the Lord, not from our performance. That may sound strange to us-but just like the story of Jonah, it's completely true.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb, a graduate of Patrick Henry College, is a Presbyterian rancher from Northern Colorado who loves the quirky, the eccentric, and the true.

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