April 17, 2016

I Commit to His World

Jonah 4

Poor, pitiful, prejudiced Jonah. If there was some sort of hate-filled organization against Ninevites, Jonah would have applied for membership. How else could you explain Jonah’s temper tantrum in these verses? Jonah would have preferred to have called fire and brimstone down upon the heads of these people instead of the message of grace and redemption God forced him to preach. In Jonah’s mind, these people were not worth saving.

In stark contrast to Jonah is the famous missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, who ministered to the continent of Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873. A biography in wholesomewords.org said: “Livingstone always exerted a peculiar influence over the natives. Before he had been in Africa a year, his gentleness of heart, his real love of the people, and his fearless manner had so won them over that he was able to do what others thought was impossible.”

In order to reach what could be perceived as the unreachable, we must dare to love the unlovable. But that kind of love is a choice. It is a love that can only be nurtured and developed in the stratosphere in which God resides and can only be practiced by humans indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Jonah did not know this love for the Ninevites— his bigotry blinded him with hate, and he robbed himself of the joy he could have known if only he had chosen compassion. (I wonder what would have happened to Nineveh if Jonah had developed a genuine love for the people of Nineveh and had stayed to minister to them.)

Even though Nineveh ultimately returned to its wicked ways and was destroyed by God (recorded in the book of Nahum), it is interesting to note “that after the fall of Nineveh, the Assyrian people did not disappear; they were simply ruled by others. Assyrians were some of the first converts by the earlier church and they became a thriving Christian community, sending missionaries throughout the eastern world. The Assyrian Church is alive and well today in communities throughout the world” (bible-history.com).