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Who Are Your Ninevites? (Who Cares What Kind of Fish it Was?)

January 23, 2014

You’re probably familiar with the story of Jonah and the Whale, or Great Fish, whatever. I kid, but I’ve heard arguments that it wasn’t a whale. Too funny and totally missing the many points of the story. Jonah was running away from the clear calling God had given him because he hated the people of Nineveh. He had good reason to, as they were the enemy of the people of Israel, his people. Historians say the Ninevites were brutal savages. I think we’re often too quick to judge Jonah for running because we don’t see his persona in us. Step back for a second and think of who it is you don’t like, or even hate!

You may not be a sexist, racist or homophobic person. You may not hate conservatives, liberals or libertarians. You may not dislike kids or old people. I’ll bet if you pass the test on all of that, there is still that co-worker or classmate that just gets under your skin every day.  It may even be a family member. Now think of those who’ve been in battle with terrorists around the world. You can sympathize with their hatred of the enemy, right? Well now maybe you understand Jonah a little bit better.

My favorite thing about the story of Jonah has nothing to do with the way he got to Nineveh, though it makes for great theater. What I really love about the story is that even though Jonah hated everyone in Nineveh, God still used him to help bring them to repentance. God obviously could have done it without Jonah. He could have found someone who was willing to go. However, in using someone that didn’t want to go God gets to show off His awesome power in a whole different way to me. We see Jonah calling out to God to save his own life in the fish, saying “…Salvation is of the LORD.” Jonah 2:9  We see the people of Nineveh come to repentance, and God decides not to destroy them. This is where we stop and all celebrate God’s mercy and goodness, but not Jonah. He was mad! He still hated the people God had called him to go to.

I know, I know. We are supposed to love everyone. That is so easy to say, but so hard to live out. If there’s a person, or group of people you hate, you should confess it to God and strive to love them. Remember though, we are to love our enemies, which means we still have them. I think the point of the story in my everyday life is I need to show and speak the love and forgiveness of Jesus to everyone around me, always. That may not mean preaching verbally to everyone I come in contact with. I don’t need to get fired for stopping my work to talk for 20 minutes on the clock about my Lord. However, at the very least, those around me should be able to see a difference.

That being said, please remember Jonah. I recently had a discussion with someone because they said ‘so-and-so’ has no business getting up publicly and talking about Jesus. Did you see what ‘so-and-so’ did a few months back? I think ‘so-and-so’ would fit in with the Ninevites according to the Jonah I was talking with. The moment the father saw the prodigal son he ran to him! That’s the truth all of us need to remember daily. We may mess up and leave God’s presence, but He never leaves ours. We just need to turn back to Him and with open arms He’ll come running! When He does something great for us, we should shout it, or post it, for all around to hear! “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” If I wait until I get my act together completely to share the love of Jesus, quite frankly, I’ll never get the chance.

Remember, in spite of you, God can use you! You may not want to preach verbally or through action to your Nineveh, but you are called to! You may not like them right away, or ever. You are commanded to love them though! Make it your goal the next time you’re out to make sure you’re showing Jesus in your life especially to those you don’t enjoy being around. Leave the reward in God’s hand and you may just see a miracle in front of your very eyes!

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