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The Modern Jonah

We all know the tale. Prophet of God, highjacked by his most recent call, rebels and runs in the opposite direction. Then, after an unexpected ride back to shore from the local marine life, our friend Jonah finds himself with a powerful revelation: God might be more than just a little serious about this request of His to go to Ninevah. Finally, our little prophet returns to the divinely requested mission and heads to Ninevah.

Upon arrival, Jonah has a less than stellar attitude, and with all the grace of an agitated 3-year-old cleaning his room, Jonah rebukes Ninevah. At this point, the entire city falls on its face and repents of their sin in recognition of the one true God of the Bible. Now, the Bible states that Ninevah was a city of 120,000. This means that roughly the seating capacity of the Michigan Wolverines stadium in Ann Arbor all came to know the Lord with one statement. Not even Peter at Pentecost had these types of results. So, suffice it to say, this would be the most productive day in the life of any pastor, at any time in biblical history! Unfortunately, at this juncture of the story, Jonah still has no recognition of what God is doing or any overarching compassion for the Ninevites, who are lost in their sin.

Jonah is stuck. He has a mighty call on his life from the Lord. He is a prophet. Remember, there are few other men in the Old Testament who held as high a level of authority as God’s prophets. And yet Jonah is angry. He isn’t pleased with the Ninevites as they align themselves with God. He takes no joy in the repentance of 120,000 and the sparing of their lives. Jonah continues to see Ninevah as an enemy neighbor. He’s judging them on the basis that they have likely fought battles in the past with his own city, and the last thing he wants is for them to find the peace and rest he has in God. He’s stuck.

There is something in this for all of us. Matthew 5:44 tells us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And this is where Jonah gets it wrong. He has no eyes to see the Ninevites as God sees them. He lacks the eyes of hope that Christ calls all of us to see the world with. When we come to know Christ and feel His love that leads us to a peace that surpasses understanding, we begin to feel something profound. We begin to feel HOPE. We start to watch our hearts and lives change for the better, and in many cases, forever. This should cause us to look at the world not with the gloom of a Christ-less life here on earth, but rather with the hope of “Look what He did with me; I wonder what He could do with my family, my friends, or even my enemies who hate me.”

This is the call of the Christian life—to be changed and then allow the change to spread in you and through you. But the problem we run into, much like our friend Jonah, is that as the Lord starts to work through our layers of selfishness; He begins to ask us to give up things that are near and dear to our hearts. So, the question I would ask you today is this: What is in the way of you seeing the world through God’s eyes? I love this question because as we begin to ask it honestly, we start to see that we are not as hopeful in function as we perceive ourselves to be, or as our faith in Christ should compel us to be. Therefore, my prayer for all who are brave enough to ask this question is that God would give you eyes to see the world as He does.