The Resistant Prophet
Last weekend I had the chance to preach on one of my favorite books in all of the Bible in week four of my "Them Vs. Us" series. The book of Jonah is so unbelievably relatable and borderline comedic in how the story plays out. Basically, Jonah has issues and baggage and I can relate.
Jonah gets an assignment from God to go 550 miles northeast to the city of Ninevah and call them to change their ways. He hates this group of people and instead decides to go 2500 miles in the opposite direction. If you know the story... it doesn't go well for him.
But this story causes us to reflect on how much we can relate to this feeling. We can ask the question this way: Is there a group of people you don’t want to experience God?
We might think God agrees with us and also wants to exclude the people we do. But then we read passages like 2 Peter 3:9 that show us God's heart looks quite different from ours. “[God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
My favorite part of the Jonah story is how Jesus turns it into a massive roast when He compares the religious people in His day and the men of Ninevah.
Ultimately, I explained that there is always something we are trying to gain whenever we feel the need to create a 'them.' The author and pastor Sharon Hodde Miller says it well:
“Jonah rebuked wickedness, only to be SUPER disappointed when the people actually repented. He wasn't interested in seeing them changed & restored, but in being able to stand over them, and this still feels like a pretty relevant heart check for us all.”
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