Jonah


I’ve been reading Jonah recently – the more I read it the weirder it is. I’ve struggled to get past the sunday school bits, but have really appreciated seeing a fresh perspective. Jonah really is a strange character – the reluctant prophet who despite experiencing God’s grace doesn’t want the people of Ninevah to experience it. He wants to see them judged and destroyed. It seems scandalous to Jonah that the God of the Jews should demean himself by offering his graciousness and forgiveness to pagans. Maybe there is also an element of shame – that a pagan people are quicker to trun to the living God than his own people, the Jews. So many of these things resonate with attitudes in my heart and the christian culture i’ve grown up in. How often are we more interested in pronouncing judgement and wanting to see people experience that, than realise that God created and loves those people as much as us? Are there people I think aren’t as deserving of God’s grace as I am? How many contradictions are there in that question. Do I want to restrict God’s work to people just like me? In my writing off certain groups of christians (often the groups i’ve rebelled against), am I becoming just like them? Exhibiting the very attitudes and lack of grace I rebel against? And then there’s the shame. As we look around this world we live in that God created, at the people made in his image who are suffering, is it shameful to us, the church that secular prophets are the ones calling for justice. Where are God’s people to declare the dignity of people above profits? Where are God’s people who are prepared to stand up and fulfill our mandate to care for creation, fopr the earth ‘which he has given to humankind’ (Psalm 115.16). Oh yeah, they are the people in the church with dodgy theology, they’re not sound, you don’t want to listen to them, stay in the nice safe place that sees things in black and white…

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