Jonah: God loves all people

By: By Cathleen Cathcart - Contributing Columnist

Scripture text — Jonah 1:1-17

The book of Jonah is unique among the prophetic books because it does not center on his prophecies, but tells the story of the prophet, his initial disobedience, then the ultimate success as a nation comes to repentance. Jonah’s flight from God began when he was asked to preach to a wicked people known for their cruelty. They were a most dreaded enemy of Israel. Jonah’s issue was not that he didn’t want to serve God, the problem was the place and people to which he was asked to go!

Let us ask ourselves, are there people we are unwilling to witness to because of our personal feelings of fear of rejection? Maybe there are those we hope “get what’s coming to them” and so we don’t want them to repent and receive forgiveness, therefore we don’t want to tell them God loves them. It’s easy to look at Jonah and point out his faults, yet he faced a barbaric nation known for torture, and often times we don’t let our own light shine at work, church, the ball game, or in line at the grocery store because we get so frustrated with people and we want to place the blame on them.

In verse 6 the ship’s captain woke Jonah and asked how could he sleep in the midst of this, and instructed that he get up and call on his God for mercy. It’s interesting that Jonah’s conscience was not bothered by his actions up to this point and he was at peace to sleep. He felt that if he got far enough away, then the Lord would have to call someone else to go. However, when the realization that the others on the ship would perish because of him, he confessed his sin and was willing to be thrown overboard. We must be careful in thinking we have done right because we don’t “feel guilty.” We cannot measure obedience by our feelings, we must be sure it lines up with God’s Word and the standards He gives for our daily living.

We see in this text that God loves all people — regardless of what we think! He will forgive anyone who sincerely calls upon Him and repents. He loved the Assyrian empire enough to give them an opportunity to repent. I can honestly say as I read about how evil this nation was I would probably have ran twice as fast as Jonah! But in all sincerity, when God calls us, He provides the grace, mercy, strength, and boldness needed for the task if we will just obey. Jonah was safer in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, telling people they would be destroyed if they did not repent than he was boarding a ship headed in the other direction.

Let me encourage you today, don’t focus on the wrong that others do, focus on the right things that God wants you to do. That’s how change comes. People may know they are doing wrong, yet not know what to do about it! Live your life as an example for others to follow. Don’t justify retaliation on others, instead, live the way you wish others would — regardless of how they may treat you in the process.

I pray, “Lord, give me the boldness to share You wherever I go. Let me love all people, no matter the color, nationality, religion, political view, etc. Thank You for loving and forgiving me, and let me in turn share that love and forgiveness with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

By Cathleen Cathcart

Contributing Columnist