In studying more about Jonah (so I can clearly understand his situation) I came across the following statement from Pastor John Piper,
God loved to show grace to his enemies, even when Jonah didn’t. Jonah didn’t want to come [to Nineveh] — it took a miracle to move him. (By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/running-with-jonah.)
God loves to show grace to His enemies. I get it. I really do. I understand Jonah’s defiance and lack of empathy for those in Nineveh. I have roughly six people or so I avoid as much as possible. Being around them is so unpleasant for me it is nearly unbearable. Yet, I hear myself praying to take my kiddos on a mission trip. God has delivered a mission field to me. (As a sister-in-Christ would say, “Wrapped in a big red bow.”) But I say, “No thank you! I don’t want to be around them!” I mean really, though, what do I expect the mission field to look like? I guess I have it in my mind they consist of those who have never heard the message of Christ Jesus and will fall in love with Him and be called by Him immediately upon hearing the gospel. It usually does not work that way, however, as illustrated in the experience of a Masai warrior named Joseph who was met with a beating upon telling his tribe about Jesus (many times).
29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-32. ESV.)
It is no wonder, really. If someone came to me and said, “I want to tell you about Jesus. He is the truth, the way, and the life. The ONLY way!” Yet had I been taught from infancy about someone other than Jesus, I would be skeptical and most likely a bit perturbed at a person trying to say what I was taught (and believed to be irrefutable) to be false. It would be devastating in a sense, at first. And why would I trust a stranger no matter how heartfelt his/her pleas? Only God can (and will as He wills) open the eyes of the heart (Psalm 119:18). Man is powerless, but does not know who God chooses so we must obey. I must show God’s grace and speak of His Son despite my personal feelings toward the individuals in question. Regardless of how much I despise their character and evil doings. Disregarding their cruelty, harsh words, threatening actions, and lack of self-control. God has trained me up adequately in self-defense. I should laugh in the face of fear. Whether they choose to wield weapons, their fists, or words, God has me prepared (and protected)…I have the armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)!
42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47. ESV.)
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