Ok, so you don’t personally know someone from Nineveh, but you just might know someone that resembles a Ninevehite. So who are these people you ask? Let’s go back to Jonah, you know the guy that gets swallowed by the whale back in the Old Testament. Oh yeah, and you just might resemble a Jonah. There is a lot more to Jonah than just being in the belly of a big fish for 3 days. Although, that is pretty miraculous, it is not the main point of the story. It is a story about God’s compassion, and mercy.
Jonah is an Old Testament Prophet, and he is called by God to go to the city of Nineveh, and proclaim repentance or God will destroy the city with everyone in it. Why? These people were a wicked, evil and ruthless people, and God was going to bring judgment upon them. They also happen to be enemies of Jonah, and Israel. So what does Jonah do? He runs away in the opposite direction. Ends up on a ship, gets tossed overboard, swallowed by the big fish, and there he repents agreeing to do what God had called him to do. So Jonah goes to the city of Ninevah, walks through it crying out for repentance, and what happens? The entire city repents, everyone. As a result, God decides not to destroy it.
Then Jonah begins to rejoice, and praise God! Wrong. Jonah gets angry, and asks God to take his life. In other words he would rather be dead than to see the wicked people of Nineveh, his enemy saved. He knew of God’s compassion, he just did not think they deserved it.
- He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country ? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jonah 4:2)
So, back to my original question? Know anyone like someone from Ninevah? Maybe you work with them, or you are related to them, maybe you even used to be married to them. So what has God called you to do? I remember hearing not too long ago on KLOVE Christian radio a caller that said she was grateful for KLOVE because she could put on her headphones, and tune out her unbelieving co-workers. Honestly, this statement kind of saddened me. I am the first one to say that I really don’t want to hear about your sexual or illegal activities, but I don’t want to place a bubble between myself and others. We are called to be in the world, but not of it.
I ask this because I think about how sometimes, somehow Believers get the “holier than thou” mentality, and forget that we all were once lost, and behaved in what could be considered in wicked ways. Worse, we don’t think that certain people are worthy of God’s compassion and grace, especially if they have offended us in someway. Like Jonah, you may say that you would rather be dead then forgive them or have God’s grace upon them.
So what has God called us as Christian’s to do when it comes to worldly people?
- And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND ; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)
- “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven ; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have ? Do not even the tax collectors do the same ? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same ? 48″Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:44-48)
So are you running from something that God has called you to do? Are you asking Him to take you out of the place where you are at in life? You don’t have to physically move for your heart to be running from God. Now, I am not suggesting that you stay in a dangerous situation or be involved any kind of relationship that would harm you. But given that, maybe God has you were you are because like with Jonah, He is trying to change your view of His compassion, mercy and grace. Even if its not comfortable for us.
By the way, we go on to learn that after his display of anger with God that Jonah heads outside of the city into the desert. There God causes a plant to grow, and shading Jonah relieving him from the heat. This make Jonah happy of course. The next morning God sends a worm to attack the plant, it withers and dies. Then God sends scorching wind, and heat upon Jonah to the point that once again he wants to die. So God asks Jonah if he had good reason to angry about the plant? Jonah says yes even to the point of death.
Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight . “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals ?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
So it is time for a heart check, and if you can relate to Jonah at all then you need to repent and ask God to work within your heart so that you can extend the same compassion and grace to others that God has extended to you.