I don’t know about you but I have always enjoyed the Jonah story. I mean, who wouldn’t delight in a defiant prophet (I would venture to say that there is a little rebellious prophet in all of us)? And then there is a big fish that swallows the prophet, toys with him in his belly for a few days, and then vomits him up onto the shore (Yuck!).
Jonah doesn’t like the people of Nineveh, and, because he believes they are bad people, he doesn’t want to warn them about their impending doom. Jonah doesn’t want to do or say anything that might keep them from getting exactly what they deserve. Plus, Jonah knows in his heart that God is merciful and will only, in the end, extend them mercy.
This story is most delicious when we agree with Jonah that bad people should get what they deserve. However, it is less palatable when we have to face the knowing that God is merciful and compassionate, very patient, and full of faithful love — even for our enemies.
How often, do we act like Jonah? How often do we judge who is right and who is wrong? Who is good and who is bad? Who deserves mercy and who does not?
It’s easy to believe that how we feel or what we think is right; after all, it’s what we think! It takes very little effort to convince ourselves that our perspective is right, righteous, just, fair, correct, and/or the only logical answer.
How often do we walk away from dialogue and compromise and quietly, in our hearts, tell God how God should handle those people? And do we steam with anger (even just a little) when God extends love, mercy and grace to people who, we are confident, deserve a little payback instead?
Being in community is difficult. Being in community as a church, as a country, and as a member of a global family is challenging. How might God be speaking to us through the telling and retelling of the Jonah story? Let’s explore the possibilities together.
Hope to see you Sunday,