Hosea 4:1-5:7; Jonah 1:1-4:11; 2 Kings 14:24-28, 15:8-16
Long story short: God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah thought he had a better idea and headed for Tarshish. God sent a storm so the sailors threw Jonah overboard. God provided a fish. After three days in the fish God caused the fish to vomit Jonah up. Where? Nineveh. Jonah preached. 120,000 people were saved. Jonah pouted. See, I told you that would happen, Lord. God provided shade for Jonah while he stubbornly waited for God to destroy Nineveh. Jonah liked the shade. God killed the vine that provided the shade. Jonah pouted. God tells Jonah to get over himself.
Many lessons can be gleaned from Jonah’s story. But I think God’s asking us today if we are guilty of picking and choosing with whom we share Jesus.
Go into prisons? Seriously, God, there are criminals there.
Preach in the inner city? Not me! There are druggies and prostitutes and gang members there.
Befriend a homeless person for Jesus’ sake? He’s just a dead-beat, God.
What about sharing Christ with that person at work who has said some awful things about you or that neighbor who is too lazy to mow his lawn? What about homosexuals, unwed moms, alcoholics, child abusers? What about Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Satanists?
And how about that person who comes to your church with dirty hair and body odor? What about the one who comes with tattoos and rings in her eyebrows?
Are we going to be like Jonah and say this person deserves God’s forgiveness but this one doesn’t? I doubt God is going to physically pick any of us up and drop us in the middle of downtown or on the streets of Iran. But we have to know he is serious about not wanting ANY to perish but for everyone to receive him. And he is calling us to share his Gospel with others regardless of our personal opinion of them.
If God is nudging you toward sharing him with someone you don’t like or to go somewhere you don’t want to go, I think he just might be telling you today to get over yourself.
Heavenly Father, help us to view mankind like you do. Help us to see all people as ones for whom Christ died. May we be willing to go where you want us to go, share you with others in spite of personal prejudices because you are preparing hearts to receive you. May we not be guilty of the sin of Jonah and try to withhold your grace from someone we decide doesn’t deserve you because in reality, we don’t deserve you, either. May you find us obedient today.