"If borderland has a king, his name is Jonah."
Jonah was sent to Nineveh to tell them of their impending doom. He did not want to go. His story mirrors something that I may believe deep down inside. I worry that God is going to send me some where I don't want to go. I worry that He is going to ask me to give up something I don't want to give up. I worry that He is going to ask of me what I dread.
Jonah had good reason not to want to go. The Assyrians were a brutal, evil people. He didn't want to go to them because of who they were, how evil they were.
I can understanding not wanting to go there. I certainly can understand not wanting to tell them that God was going to destroy them. I can imagine the torturous ways they could kill me. Maybe where God is sending me to won't kill me, but it could treat me badly, make my life miserable. Maybe what He asks me to give up will make my life more difficult. Maybe who He wants me to give up means too much to me.
What if He does? Why is He asking me to give up, to go? He does it to reveal my heart, what is really in my heart. Are there some who do not deserve the love and forgiveness of God? Are there things in my life that mean more to me then God does? What is your answer to those questions? Be honest! If you say, "no," you may find yourself being asked to do something you don't want to. God knows our hearts far better we do. I have to be honest I know there are things in my heart that need to be dealt with.
But Jonah didn't want to go because He also knew that God might be merciful and not destroy them. He thought God was too hard for making him go, and he thought He was soft on his enemies. And of course, Jonah is right. The people of Nineveh do repent and God does have mercy on them and spares them.
Here's the best part, I think, Jonah was disobedient. He ran from God and had to be swallowed and spit out before he went to Nineveh. He went with a bad attitude. He still wanted the people to be destroyed. I wonder if he gritted his teeth the whole time he prophesied to them. But God used his disobedience. That's the part!
Like I said before God is interested in our heart. "Obedience by itself can make our heart wither and bitter and barren as a husk," Mark Buchanan writes. "What is God mostly interested in? Strangely, anticlimactically, it has to do with concerns - with what our hearts fix on, with what stirs us in the depths and makes us rise to the heights. What are we concerned about? Is it what God is concernedabout? Both Jonah's disobedience and his obedience rise up from the same source: from what he is concerned about."
Jonah is concerned about himself. He wants to keep away from the too hard, too soft God. He wants to keep the status quo. He safe in Israel and the evil Ninevehites destined for destruction from God.
But God is not too soft nor too hard. He is too concerned. He is concerned about each of us. He is concerned about the sinner and the saint. The question is should He just not be so concerned? Should He just let my status quo stay as it is? My view of God and my relationship with Him depends on how I answer those questions.
(Disclaimer - I feel like I need to put it out there again that I write this blog based on what I read. Most of the ideas are not my own, but the authors'. I just summarize them and write my thoughts. Just a reminder for you and me.)