Running From Nineveh

Jonah 4:1-11
Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in
spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals.
Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city? (v.11).

Sixty-six-year-old Nita Friedman was not the sort of person you would expect to lead the police on a
15-mile car chase. But that’s exactly what police chief Mike Hutter encountered on US Highway 95 in
Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

After receiving a call about a reckless driver, Hutter spotted Friedman and turned on his lights and siren.
Rather than pull over, however, Friedman kept on going.  Apparently, she was confused and didn’t think his vehicle was a real police car. Although she never exceeded the speed limit, Friedman was eventually charged with eluding a police officer.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a biblical character who also made a run for it. Unlike Nita Friedman, this guy intentionally ran away—not from the law, but from God.  He wasn’t confused. He flat out didn’t want to go to the place where God had called him to go.  His name was Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3).  A part of me understands Jonah. Who in their right mind would want to go to Nineveh—a city that tortured and killed its own people? But running away from God didn’t turn out so well for Jonah (vv.3-17). After he had a change of heart (ch.2), God called him again to go and warn Nineveh of its impending demise. This time he went.  The city repented, God showed compassion, and Jonah was furious (ch.3–4).

It’s not merely that Jonah ran. What’s so problematic is why he ran. He bolted because he refused to accept the wildly amazing truth that God’s grace is for all—even people as wicked as the Ninevites.  Are there people that we’ve judged as unworthy of God’s grace? Perhaps because of their behavior or the way they look? It’s time to reach out to them in God’s love. Who is your Nineveh? —Jeff Olson

God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so
much, that even though we were dead because
of our sins, He gave us life when He raised
Christ from the dead (Ephesians 2:4-5).

How have you conveyed that some people are
undeserving of God’s forgiveness? How does
God’s grace affect your views?