Last Sunday we started a new 5-week series here at the Gaylord E-Free Church (GEFC) through the book of Jonah that we are calling "Looking Past the Whale." As we saw on Sunday, God told Jonah to go the city of Nineveh and to proclaim to them the message that in 40 days God would overthrow their city due to their wickedness. And what did Jonah do? He not only said "NO," he attempted to run from the Lord. He headed to a destination that was some 2500 miles away from the destination God was sending him to. As I said Sunday, you will never win a game of "Hide-N-Seek" with God...He's never lost one of those games yet.
But we also learned Sunday that the reason Jonah disobeyed and ran the other way was because he hated the Ninevites. He knew that if he preached to them the message God gave to him, and if as a result they actually repented, that God would forgive them. Jonah didn't want God to forgive them. He wanted Him to ZAP them. We spent some time Sunday looking at the brutal and barbaric way that the Assyrian Empire, of which Nineveh was the capitol, tortured their enemies. Perhaps Jonah knew some folks who had fallen into the Assyrian's evil hands. But whatever the reason, Jonah did not want Nineveh to be saved. He wanted them to be judged - so he ran the other way, playing a foolish game of "Hide-N-Seek" with the Lord.
But the truth is that there is a "Jonah Streak" in most all of us. I think many of us, if we are going to be honest, have developed such a disdain for a group of people that we would rather see them judged than saved. I have met Christians who have a "Jonah Streak" concerning the following:
People of a different race
People who speak a different language
People of a different political party
People of a different social class
It's not an exhaustive list by any means but it is one that has to make us question if we too have some type of a "Jonah Streak" within us. The theme of the book of Jonah is the fact that God loves the world. His desire is to see them all come to repentance. I wonder what would happen if each one of us who are followers of Jesus would start every single day the rest of our lives with this prayer:
"Father, Today please give me Your love for the world and for lost people! Amen"