Jonah, a Love Story

Posted by jon on June 17, 2010 in but seriously... |

If you know anything at all about the Bible you have likely heard the story of Jonah. It is a popular children’s story (heck, it was the subject of a full length ViggieTale movie). I will not take time here to retell this story, if you are unfamiliar with the story I would direct you to your Bible, conveniently it is located in the book called…wait for it…Jonah.

While we can draw numerous lessons from the story of Jonah, this week I have gotten a new perspective on this story. Jonah has a past before this story (George Lucas failed to obtain the rights to go back and make a stiffly acted trilogy about the younger Jonah) and Jonah has life after the short story we have in the Scripture, but he is defined by his actions here. Jonah was obviously a respected man of God. The people knew him and respected what he had to say. He built a reputation and was well known where he lived. But we don’t remember who he was, and there is no mention of what he went on to do after his trip to Nineveh.

In many ways Jonah has been reduced to an Old Testament punch line or a good flannel graph story, but that is a mistake. Jonah is not about a whale and the man that ran…it is another story of God’s grace. It is a continuation of God’s love story. It was because God loved the Ninevites that Jonah was sent to them. God could have simply judged them and been justified for it, but God loved. Jonah ran, but instead of giving up on him God brought Jonah back because God loved. And even when Jonah raged and challenged God’s judgment God still loved.

Jonah obeyed God (eventually) but he did not do it out of love. Jonah’s story reminds us that God loves all people. I once saw a demonstration against gay marriage where supposed Christ followers held up signs declaring that “God hates fags”. This was the outlook Jonah had, but its not God’s perspective. God opposes sin, but God loves without condition. God judges justly, but God is mericful in justice. To say that God hate any people for their actions, beliefs, or lifestyle is to place an inescapable judgment on all of us, “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s rightousness”.

Place in your mind the person or people you most dislike or distrust. Is it an image of the Taliban, of Obama, or some radical hate group? Whoever it is what if God called you to love them? Wait God did call you to love them. What would it look like if we did? What if our prejudices took a back seat to God’s unending grace? How would your life be different?

God is still writing a love story with each of us. We are the expression of God’s grace and love. God is everywhere.

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