Thursday, September 15, 2005

The fish question is beside the point....

I have been thinking about Jonah lately. I always thought I knew what Jonah was about - you know, the basic obedience thing. But lately a new aspect of Jonah has occurred to me, one that hits me harder than the obedience issue. It's a more subtle problem, but I know when I think about it I am so guilty of being like Jonah. It occurred to me that Jonah's reason for running from God was not as obvious as "I just don't want to go"," it's inconvenient" whatever. It was the fact that Jonah wanted to do God's job and decide who was and who was not acceptable for the kingdom. He just plain didn't like the Ninevites. He didn't want to go because he was afraid God would forgive them and allow them to enter the Kingdom. Wow - that puts a whole new spin on things. Why don't I reach out to certain people? God loves us all equally and wants us all to be part of His kingdom. He loves my worst enemy, He loves people that hurt me. He loves people that do serious wrong in the world. He loves the inmate on death row, He loves the terrorist. I don't love them. I want revenge, I want them to get what they have coming, unless of course it's God's love and forgiveness! That's a pretty sobering thought. And it turns concepts like capital punishment upside down. I don't get to decide! I don't get to choose! I don't get to play God. I think we get so wrapped up in the story of Jonah, and whether it really happened or not that we miss the point. Or we look at the obvious symbolism of the three days, death and resurrection and don't look any deeper. We don't see God is concerned with everyone not just those who are worthy of His concern. And we don't realize that in our selfishness we don't want God's concerns to be our own. As Mark Buchanan puts it: "It's hard to draw close to God...when He so clearly doesn't cherish what we cherish or hate whom we hate - who doesn't share our fetishes or grievances or prejudices...when He's not safe. It's hard to obey a God like that." In incarnation He stands beside us no matter who we are and what we've done, whether we deserve it or not. Whether we are the sinner or the Pharisee, the redeemed or the bitter unbeliever. The point of Jonah in my life today? I just need to quit running and let God be God. I need to quit complaining and sulking and judging and learn the lesson of Jonah; God is concerned with all mankind. Even those who are a thorn in my side and don't see things the same way I do. And most importantly, He is not willing that any should perish. I am such a slow learner!

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