Read Jonah 1:3. We noted two deceptive results of Jonah’s flight. But two more follow, since they’re common to all who drift from God.

Jonah paid the fare – Jonah seals the deal by ‘paying the fare’ for his alternative ‘adventure of a lifetime’, his best option to obeying God. He paid good money to sin! Like many disappointed believers today who try a new lifestyle, blind date, and house move, for a complete change saying, ‘What the hell, you only live once!’ But it may cost us dearly. He is ‘fleeing the presence’ (v.3). How can anything possibly go right for him from here on in?

This is the curse of autonomous religion and self-directed ministry. There is a great deal of it today. We have become religious consumers. We gauge truth by the ’the feel good factor’. We prefer comfort to challenge. We look for ‘What best suits me’. But only Christ can decide that. So where is God in all this? Instead of being his servants, he has become ours. It’s possible to listen to the first lie of the Serpent in Eden, ‘You can be your own ‘god’, choosing for ourselves our own destiny.’ The result is always enormous loss.

The lure of things, power, fame, celebrity status and instant success in the wilderness, are where much of the church is being lured today, just as our Lord was tempted at the outset of his ministry. ‘Has God said? I will give you all the kingdoms of this world if you will only…’ are the same hissing sounds that Jesus heard, repeated with relentless monotony today. Only the most vigilant and wary will recognise where those voices actually come from. Our worst Enemy!

The lure of the new, and ‘cool’ seductive opportunities to serve the Lord, baits the hook for many disillusioned and tired servants of God. It becomes hard to tell whether we’re drawn by Christ’s will or by our own ego. Is this really faith, or presumption? Is it a ‘New, improved Christianity’ or some tried and failed ‘quack remedy’ from a ‘snake-oil salesman’ trying to revive jaded churches by promising restored virility to otherwise self-deluded backsliders who won’t repent. Will the result be a ‘repeat of Pentecost’ or more like Aaron and faithless Israel dancing around the golden calf, indulging tens of thousands in an orgy of religious song and dance?

Ask God to increase our spiritual discernment so we will be able to remain loyal to God’s Word and God’s Will in our mission for Christ.