Jonah may have been the most successful preacher in history. He preached and an entire city repented, and a large city, at that. The church celebrates 4000 in one day as a supreme act, yet cranky Jonah exceeded that by far.
We often question and scorn Jonah for running away from his call. It would be similar to you being called to North Korea to preach, “repent.” The destination is a scary place for such a preacher.
Nineveh was known for the cruelty visited upon the defeated. People were impaled, beheaded, “stretched”. They worshipped a number of gods. They were enemies of Israel, and they were not friends of God. It was a good place to avoid.
Jonah just followed his common sense. It seemed suicidal to go to Nineveh. There seemed no promise of safety by God, so why go?
Plus, the demise of Nineveh seemed to be a positive for Israel. With the fall of Nineveh, perhaps things would be better for Israel.
If Jonah’s logic were to be followed, then the world would be lost. This is why Paul’s call for a sort of “disengagement” is very important to evangelism.
Often, going to those crazy places is what we are called to do. There are people from many Christian denominations that willing went where they are not welcomed to share the Gospel. In many of those same countries (and more besides), there are indigenous believers whose very lives are in danger for the common faith they hold with us.
Holding too firmly onto our understanding of the way things “should be” is generally us being too tied to the ways of the world. Holding on too firmly to the world often blinds us to the call on our life that God has made.
Simon, Andrew, James, and John did not hold too tightly onto the world. Although the Scriptures don’t tell us such, it would be inhuman if the 4 men felt nothing as they left their livelihood, families, and much of their identity. There was still something about Jesus that caused them to release the world and follow him.
- What would you do or where would you go if you believed God was sending you?
- What are some of the ways of the world that hold Christians back from reaching the world for Christ?
Lord, give us the strength to forgo the world in whatever ways you call us. Give us the discernment to recognize your will and your call. Amen.