Jonah, one of 12 minor prophets in the Old Testament, is a book of only 48 verses. That’s shorter than some chapters in the Bible! Yet, this little book contains a massive message: God values people – all people – and he wants us to value them as well, especially those who do not yet know him!
For my fellow FFC-ers, I am praying this message will blanket us individually and collectively. I am praying we see people, more than ever, just like God does! And if my guesstimate is correct, when we’re done with this series, you’ll probably agree with me that this will have been our greatest emphasis yet on evangelism and compassion. And for a church who has been outreach-focused from the beginning, whose constant posture is a set of outstretched arms, whose DNA is marked with Matthew 28:19-20, that is saying something!
But that won’t happen without a price: Many of us will find ourselves exposed! We’ll discover that our reasons for being quiet or uninvolved or lazy are actually only excuses. God will do to us what he did to Jonah – he will bring us to the mirror of himself and say, “Love like me.”
God was bringing Jonah to that place! To that place where he could no longer hide, no longer run, no longer wander from what God was doing to him and through him. God was performing a heart transplant in Jonah! You see, Nineveh was already in God’s heart, and he was making sure Nineveh got in Jonah’s heart. That’s’ right – God was putting people in the right place on Jonah’s priority list. God was helping Jonah value the right things – people!
This spiritual surgery is highlighted in the last two verses of the book (Jonah 4:10-11), and these two verses tie it all together and give us a glimpse into what God was doing all along.
“But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?’”
It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And so should we!
Oddly, we don’t know the end result of this spiritual surgery; Scripture never tells us how Jonah responded. But we do know the heartbeat of the surgeon, don’t we? God values people, and he wants us to as well. Yes, he wanted to redeem Nineveh, but he also wanted to refine Jonah. That’s what God does, isn’t it? And I’m praying God will do both to and through me and you – redeem and refine!