In Pursuit of the Disobedient, Part 3

Our Disobedience Affects Those around Us

In the previous article, we saw that disobedience to God does not necessarily lead us out of God's presence. However, while the Lord is still pursuing us, our disobedience may have a dramatic effect on the lives of those around us.

God was determined to persuade Jonah to finish the task He had given him. So, the Lord visited the boat that Jonah was traveling on and started to stir things up. In fact, the storm grew so violent that the sailors feared for their lives, even though Jonah had gone below deck and had fallen asleep! They started calling out to their own gods for help, and when that didn't work, they began to throw their cargo overboard, and along with it perhaps their profit (prophet?), in an effort to lighten their load.

Are we aware that our disobedience to God can actually have a negative effect on those around us? The sailors on the boat were in no danger from God until the runaway prophet walked aboard. Because of the report of ten scared men, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb spent forty years walking in a circle in the desert. In the Book of Joshua, we read that one man's disobedience caused the death of thirty-six men. "The Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan ... of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel" (Joshua 7:1, NIV). One man sinned, but Scripture says "the Israelites acted unfaithfully." In 2 Samuel 6 we read that David's disobedience in following the Lord's instructions for transporting the Ark led to the death of Uzzah.

Have we ever endangered another person's life because of our own disobedience? How many times do we read about a drunk driver killing someone in another car, while the drunk walked away unharmed? What about the disobedience of divorce and the harm it causes the children? Of course, we don't like to think of it in personal terms. I mean, those things happen to other people in that church down the street, right? No, those things are happening to the person sitting next to you in church. Or, because of the disobedience of someone in your family, perhaps those things are happening to you.

Our response, naturally, needs to be in the same vein as the response of Jonah. We need to admit who we are and whom we worship, and we need to acknowledge who God is and why we worship Him (Jonah 1:9). I think that much of our disobedience in life comes from our too frequent habit of forgetting who God is and why we decided to worship Him in the first place.

Finally, we need to be honest about our dishonesty (we'll take a closer look at that theme in the next article). For those of us who are Christians, we can remember the time when we admitted to God we were a sinner and we needed His love and forgiveness. We rejoiced in the day of our salvation, and we told everyone we knew, "I was dead, but now I'm alive. I was blind, but now I see!" Where on our long road with God did we ever get the idea that we no longer needed forgiveness, and therefore no longer needed to repent?

James D. Thornber