For the biblical Jonah, the trip to Nineveh represented coming face to face with what hurts you. Nineveh was the stronghold of the brutal Assyrian Empire. How would we respond if the voice of God asked us to give a warning to those who have been our cruel oppressors?
Though he acts as the mouthpiece of God, though he truly enables a whole city of people to avoid destruction through repentance, Jonah doesn’t budge about his own feelings for them. He’s angry about their salvation. I wonder if Jonah’s unmoved anger opens up a space for those among us whose hearts aren’t ready to forgive, but who also wish to act faithfully and follow Jesus’ commands. Maybe there is a way to get on the boat God offers us, to let God carry us into a hard task and to go about that task faithfully – even when our feelings don’t come along for the ride.
This message is excerpted from “The grumpiest disciple teaches forgiveness” by Liv Larson Andrews in the September 2016 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Jerome, translator, teacher, 420.
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