Recently, my pastor preached a sermon on the story of Jonah, which can be found in the book of Jonah in The Old Testament of The Holy Bible. I have heard the story countless times over the years. But this sermon was given with a contemporary twist. Doing that puts things into better perspective for most of us, as analogies have a way of bringing the point home. He told how Jonah ran fast in the opposite direction from what God had commanded him to do.
You see, Jonah was a prophet. He was supposed to be following God’s direction to go and warn the Ninevites to change their wicked ways. But instead he was so prejudiced toward the people of Ninevah that he absolutely refused to go and speak to them. At least initially. God’s plans always work out in the end, but we as human beings have a way of forgetting that. We usually try our way first. The fact is, God will typically call us to do something we do not want to do. At the least, something we had no life plans to do. If you doubt that, talk to anyone who has a platform or a ministry. They probably did not grow up saying I want to go head to head and toe to toe, with the biggest sportswear company in the modern world. They never said, I want to become a nun and spend the rest of my life in India, tending to the marginalized. When asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ They most likely never said ‘I want to fill a need in society.’ No, they said they want to be a fireman, a policeman, or a doctor.
Yes, Jonah was a prophet. He should have known God would call his number at some point right? I mean, no one gets to do whatever they want all the time, and call it being in God’s will? No, being in God’s will is doing what He says to do whether you like it or not. Jonah did not like what God asked him to do, so he ran, but he ran right back into God! I mean, He is God after all. Where exactly did Jonah think he would be able to hide? So after finding himself in a bad spot, he decided to go back and do God’s will…kind of. He talked to the people of Ninevah, telling them to change their wicked ways. But his heart wasn’t in it. Funny thing is, even though his heart wasn’t in it, they still repented! Poor Jonah! He found out that the best course of action is to do God’s will to begin with, and with the right heart.
Have you ever been in a Jonah kind of way? Are you in a Jonah kind of way now? Are you a leader or lay member of your local church, but there are just certain people you do not care for? Maybe there is a group of people you wouldn’t mind if they all just went to Hell. Whether we live to 90, or we die too young. Whether we are on our death beds with 30 seconds to live, our hearts must be right if we want to see Jesus. That’s the bottom line. No one is going to Heaven with hate in their heart. It just does not work that way. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone, and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Bottom line.