And sometimes we get angry that God asks us to do these things. There are all kinds of people out there. People we would like to ignore. People that if God said I want you to go and serve them, we would try to find a way to run away from it. We would try to find some kind of way to make it difficult for God to use us that way. Maybe God will forget and will send somebody else. City people? People of other races? People of other countries or speak other languages? Gay people? Rich people? Poor people? There are so many people we would like to ignore and just stay comfortable, stay inside of what we would like, what we expect from God in our own lifestyle.
And what Jonah is teaching us is that that isn’t always an option. Jonah did not want to be at Nineveh. God who loves even the Ninevehites called Jonah to go there.
These words are to shake us out of our own selfishness. And God finally asks us, “Why are you so concerned about doing something you like? Why are you so concerned about your career proceeding a certain way? Shouldn’t you be more concerned about serving the people who need to hear the word of God?”
And, finally we hear it, and we understand it; but we aren’t a whole lot more graceful than Jonah in obeying. We all have these parts of our lives that are like Jonah. God is calling us out of the shade. God is calling us out of our comfort zone. He is calling us to serve somebody, to sacrifice for somebody who is different than us
When that call comes, and that hard thing shows up in our lives, we don’t have to be hypocrites. Jonah was a hypocrite. We don’t have to be. The same mercy we have received, we can share. We can share it here, in our homes and churches. We can share it out in our communities, or overseas on mission trips. We can share it to the ends of the earth.
The most important thing we want to take away from the story of Jonah is that we don’t really want to be like him. Instead our call is to be like Jesus Christ who willingly gave up all that was due to him and took upon himself the form of a servant. He became human and suffered willingly for us. He was willing to face the cross for our sakes, to bear the weight of our sins. That is our Lord. That is our Savior. That is what we rejoice in and that is the pattern we are called to follow.
So, get over yourself. Pray and calm down. Get back in the race. Be the people God expects us to be.