Thursday, February 21, 2013

Appointed People: Lessons from Jonah

Read Jonah 1-4

Jonah scowled at the very idea of going to Nineveh. “Seriously, God?” These people were so not up Jonah’s alley. They were pagans, they worshiped a fish god. They were wicked. They were unclean. They were the enemy, settled right in Assyria. And if they received judgment, then they would be getting what they deserved. “No, really, that’s ok God. I think I’d rather go to Spain, see the sights, breath the ocean air.” And that’s just what Jonah did.


What Jonah did not understand, which God gracefully and patiently taught in throughout the four short chapters in the book of Jonah, is that when God has appointed something-a great fish, a plant, a worm – or even a man – that little piece of His creation is to be obedient to that call. Notice that throughout the account, all of creation was obedient to what it was appointed to do, all except for Jonah.


Why didn’t he want to do what God had called him to do? I think about how I long for the calling and opportunity to teach and preach. What was his problem? In looking at the first chapter, notice that instead of going to Ninevah, he went to Joppa. Joppa literally means ‘beautiful.’ Ah, now it’s beginning to make sense. Isn’t that how we are today? Wouldn’t we rather be around what is easy, what is beautiful, around those who already believe and are like us, than those who are wicked and different? What we see in Jonah’s reluctance is his prejudice. He just simply didn’t like the people he was called to serve.


Who are our ‘Ninevites?’ Are there individuals or families or groups to which God has called us to be a light, to send His message, who we are reluctant to serve? I’ll be the first to admit, I have a real problem ministering to people who are just rude and mean. I resist it, because I want to be liked and treated with respect. But so often, and now especially reading Jonah, God’s gentle spirit calls to me, reminding me that His grace extends to everyone, and that I am ‘appointed’ to obey, to go, to make disciples, regardless of my own prejudices and preferences. Even our Ninevites are valuable to God. And so, as His appointed priests, they must have value to us also.


Be a messenger today, Beloved. Be His messenger. Say yes to the appointment which He has given you…and watch Him change the world through you.

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

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