Jonah was a prophet who really didn't like the people of Nineveh. He did everything he could to watch the city burn, but ultimately God's grace won out and saved the city.
When I read this story, I am amazed at how God worked in such a messed up circumstance. If the people had been angry or stubborn, closed their ears and turned their backs, they would have missed God's gift of grace and been utterly destroyed. And Jonah didn't help matters, he rejected God's authority, rejected his neighbor, and rejected his responsibility, and yet God still found a way to reconcile a whole city and teach a lesson to Jonah about grace and justice.
Often Christians pick on Jonah for being such a miserable prophet, but he teaches us a good lesson, and we can often see ourselves in his actions. We should notice that God does not want us to hold on to grudges. Jesus commanded us to live in harmony with each other and to love our enemies.
Maybe each of us have a little Jonah in us. Have you ever been angry with, or turned your back on someone in need? Maybe you secretly hoped that something would befall them? Or maybe you felt a twinge of happiness at someones pain? Unfortunately I think this is a horrible syndrome of humanity. We somehow adopt the rule, “an eye for and eye” rather than humbly praying for, supporting, and standing beside others.
During the month of May Johnston River of Life will be diving deeper into the life and story of this prophet. Consider joining us as we look for ways that God is calling each of us into ministry and service in our community. In the mean time consider wrestling with these questions:
Is there anyone you are angry with? Pray about it, seek peace and reconciliation.
Who are you being called to serve? Ask for courage to do so even if it is someone you dislike.
Who have you wished ill upon? Ask for forgiveness and instead pray for grace.
What trait of Jonah do you need to break in your life in order to dive deeper into the depths of God's grace and mission?