“And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” Jonah 4.11
Spit out of the slime of a fish belly after a 3 day stay you would think Jonah might have a new appreciation of God’s mercy towards him. He had ended up belly bound because he turned his back on God –and now Jonah lay gasping for fresh air freed by that eternal mercy after begging God for it and getting it. Not that it made a long-lasting impression on him- he did get up and go tell the great city Nineveh to repent. But as soon as they did Jonah got bent out of shape over it. Evidently Jonah would have preferred to see Nineveh’s destruction – rather than their conversion and God’s extension of mercy to them. Oh it was ok for HIM to cry out to God and be delivered, but not ok for THOSE EVIL NINEVITES. And why had God made him get wrapped up in the whole affair anyway? Jonah just couldn’t let go of it – so he sat down on the hillside hoping to see some wrath, judgement and destruction. But he was disappointed again when his shade bush withered and God gave him another lecture about mercy.
Like the laborers who grumbled at the generosity of the landowner in Jesus’ tale of the Kingdom – Jonah just couldn’t bear to see for others what he expected for himself. There’s a lot of that feeling in the world today. Not wanting to bear with one another – feeling like some (me/we) deserve – and some (they/them) don’t, not wanting to be involved at all. God’s kingdom to which we’re all invited will be much different from the fishbelly world we live in today where right hand and left hand work at counter purposes – if at all. When we accept the invitation, the gift of generous mercy is what we’re offered – May we let it be what we really want for ourselves and for everybody else.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”