2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah 1:2
So God’s word has come to Jonah very clearly. Go (arise) to the great city of Nineveh. Here’s the deal…this would have been crazy tough for Jonah to do. He would certainly have agreed with the wickedness part, but Jonah was a prophet in Israel. We already mentioned that he was good at sharing God’s word with God’s people. Nineveh is not in Israel. What happens when God asks you to go beyond your people?
It is so very difficult to engage with those that are different than us. I can talk to the guy with tattoos and a rap sheet, but put me in a room of suits and I feel out of place. I just got invited again to the pastor’s network in town. I know it’s a good thing, I know I’d enjoy it, I know I should go—but they’re not my people so it’ll be tough. It’s just that simple, my comfort level is all screwed up when I do that sort of thing, I’d rather sit in a drug recovery house all day than at a church “retreat.”
Of course that just proves that I like Jonah have a goofy perspective when it comes to God’s love. I want to pretend like I’ve got a line on God’s grace because I minister among those that look different than most…but dang…mentally I know God loves the suits and the straight laced folks as much as he loves the ex-cons, its just tricky to carry that love to those folks.
Okay, if it is tough for me to minister to little old ladies and suitcase hauling business men. How hard would it be for Jonah? It’s not like he was going on a simple hospital visit.
The people of Nineveh weren’t just different than the Jewish folks, they were longtime hardcore enemies of the Israelites. Nineveh was part of the Assyrian Empire and the history between Assyria and Israel is a very rough one. One story/legend has the Assyrians hauling people away with fish hooks in their faces. So God calls Jonah to the prophets enemies. It’s like God calling you or me to go minister to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda—or worse—it’s like that if the Taliban were kicking our butts. Go…hmmmm?