We don't celebrate a traditional advent at The Bridge. In the last three years that I've attended (and its existed) this has made for a different holiday season than I'm used to. This week Chris's message was excellent and Bono even paid a short visit!
I must say it was a little interesting using Jonah as the basis for the Christmas story, but it tied in very nicely. The main point of the message was that we should love people rather than judging or condemning them.
Jonah didn't like the Ninevites and knew deep down that if he presented the message of salvation to them that they would probably be saved. This happened in Jonah 3:10 "... He [God] had compassion..." Jonah's plea in Jonah 4:2 is almost funny but sad, Jonah was so angry about God's compassion for the heathen! "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."
God does not want His people walking around the earth holding His love inside their hearts or in some niche group and condemning everyone else. Look what happened to Jonah when he tried. Matthew 5:43 commands us to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. That definitely isn't an easy task and it should be done in a healthy and Spirit-filled way.
Finally from Hosea 6:6 we learn what God wants from us:
I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
Rather than focusing our energy and time on hatred and condemnation, God calls us to be a people of mercy and compassion. (excerpted from this week's discussion guide)
Chris made a point at the beginning to say that we are often more charitable this time of year, than during the other 11 months. He clarified that God wants us to live with love 24/7 all year long.
Make a list of people or situations that you need to let go of and focus more on loving those people instead of harboring ill feelings or judgement. Pray for God to help you to do this.