This is not my normal way of introducing myself. In fact, I have never introduced myself as Jonah. I don’t think I look like a Jonah. I’m not really sure what he looks like, I just know I don’t look like a Jonah. Still, there is something in me that is just like Jonah. There is something that causes me to question, to wonder, are these really the type of people God wants to offer a second chance?
You want me to talk to who?
There are just those people. They do things, things that should exclude them and yet God still pursues them. Even worse He calls on me to participate in His plan. I say I want to be used by God but this isn’t what I meant. Isn’t there a nice, well behaved, upstanding member of society that just needs a nudge to go in the right direction? Isn’t there someone that deserves the gospel but just hasn’t heard it?
I’m not sure if these people exist, but God never sends me to them. Don’t get me wrong, I know perfect people do not exist, I know that there will always be things about people I don’t like. It is human nature to rub each other the wrong way but this is different. It is one thing to interact with people who are a little different from me, it is quite another thing to have to share the gospel with people who are nothing like me.
Sometimes I just want to run and hide.
I’m okay talking to these people, I’m not a prude. They may be covered in tattoos, they may drink and smoke, they may do things I would never do, but I still talk to them, I don’t consider them beneath me. It’s just they’re so messed up, so far away from what it is to be godly. The things they’ve done, the things they’ve seen, the things they’ve approved of, the things they sat idly by and watched happen, it’s just all too much. Don’t ask me to offer them a new way of life. Doesn’t God realize what they’ve done? I think it’s time I find a place where God will just leave me alone.
If you could only hear my thoughts.
I am glad you can’t. Maybe you’re like me, you’re glad others can’t hear your thoughts. We love to be a part of the discussion. We love to talk about the incredible mercy and grace of God. We propose outreach opportunities aimed at those who have lost their way. We think a dinner for the homeless, a shelter to get people out of the cold, a safe place for those who were being sexually exploited are all great opportunities to reach the community. Once we are face to face with those who need to experience the incredible mercy and grace of God we wonder to ourselves, what have they done to make such a mess of their lives?
I am Jonah.
I look at some people and I think to myself, do they really deserve a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance… I may not have the guts to say it directly to God or to the people trying to reach them but I think it. I wonder, why are you wasting your time? Why do you think they will finally repent? After all they’ve done, why would you even offer them forgiveness?
Maybe you have never thought this, maybe you are a lot more merciful and gracious than I, maybe you fully understand and embrace everything God does, I wish I were like you. Instead, I find myself thinking more like Jonah, deciding for God who deserves His mercy and grace.
I am Nineveh.
I have messed up. I am so far away from what it is to be godly. The things I have done, the things I have seen, the things I have approved of, the things I have sat idly by and watched happen, it’s just all too much. Doesn’t God realize what I have done? I do not deserve the mercy and grace of God. Why He chose to reveal to me His love is beyond my comprehension.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile [or anyone else I deem and unworthy because of my sinful bias]*, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24 (NIV)
* added by the author of this post to illustrate his own sinfulness
To make matters worse, I often overlook all that I have done while at the same time I am unwilling to overlook what others have done. I guess you could say I am Jonah even though I desire to be Nineveh.
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