And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
When I had the privilege to travel overseas – when I was younger – I remember a somewhat strange phenomenon.
No matter where I went, be it Cortina, Italy, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, or Nassau, Bahamas, I inevitably found it easier to talk with people who were from the United States than I did to people who were from elsewhere or local citizens.
I also noticed that the groups of people that I saw in those foreign lands tended to be from the same country or even the same area of the same country.
But this kind of thing doesn’t have to be about national origin. People also tend to group together around a favorite sports team, or a favorite artist, or even a favorite type of music or food.
For the brothers and sisters of the Christian church, this is what the lesson of Jonah needs to teach us.
When we are commissioned by Christ to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations, we need to do just that – go out into all the world.
Jonah was called by God to leave Israel and go to the great city of Israel’s enemy – Nineveh. He was called by God to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to his enemies.
While some call Jonah the “Reluctant Prophet” I don’t think reluctance had anything to do with it.
Jonah flat-out didn’t want to go. He didn’t like the people of Nineveh. He didn’t want any part of the possibility that they could be spared God’s wrath by repenting of their sins.
Jonah would rather have Nineveh destroyed and to that end Jonah got a ship and sailed in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh.
God turned Jonah around and got him to Nineveh. But still Jonah didn’t want Nineveh saved.
So he preached his sermon of repentance. And what a sermon it was!
“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
That was it. One sentence. No preamble. No details. Just a time-table and what would happen.
It seems almost that Jonah tried to sabotage his own mission!
And still the Holy Spirit used even this pitiful little message and turned the hearts of the entire city.
We need to learn this lesson. When God tells us to go into the entire world and teach others what Jesus has done (and commanded us to teach), God means the entire world.
Even those people who speak a different language than us.
Even those people who wear different clothes than us.
Even those people who have a different government than us.
Even those people who look different than us.
After all, God saved us, didn’t he! God didn’t send Jesus Christ to save just U.S. Citizens, or Caucasians, or those who have representative republics as their governments, or just those who speak English. He didn’t save us because we had all these things.
God saved us simply because he loves us! It had nothing to do with where we are from or what we look like. It is simply because of whose we are. His! God’s creation. That’s why God saved us. That’s why God loves us.
Jesus told us to love all people, not just those who look or sound like us.
Jesus told us to love even our enemies.
And Jesus told us to go into the entire world and make disciples.
Jonah was unhappy that God saved Nineveh.
It didn’t do Jonah well to be angry about God saving Nineveh.
It will do us well to be happy that God saves us, and wants us to bring this message of salvation to the entire world.
Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me. Thank you also for making me a part of the message delivery system of your salvation to others. Help me to always see the heart of people – the people that you love – and not their outward appearance or where they are from. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
©2017 True Men Ministries