Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something
to forgive - C.S. Lewis
(Jon 3:1-5, 10)
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD'S bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, "
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.
The bloody, brutal Ninevites repented but Jonah, who preached the
message of repentance to them, did not. Jonah initially fled from God's
call, refusing to forgive and preach to his enemies, the Ninevites.
After Jonah spent three days in a whale and was spit out on the shore,
he changed his mind but not his heart. He did preach the message of
repentance to the Ninevites, but his heart wasn't in it. In his heart,
Jonah didn't want the Ninevites to repent. He wanted them punished (Jon
4:1ff). The only reason Jonah did what God wanted was to avoid doing
any more time in a whale's belly.
Many Christians are like Jonah. Eventually, they do the right thing and
are even used by the Lord to lead people to Him. However, their hearts
aren't in it. They serve the Lord begrudgingly. Mass is their Sunday
obligation, not their Sunday privilege. They think they are doing God a
favor when they pray. They really don't care that much if unbelievers
are brought to belief but simply don't want to go to hell themselves.
Why did everyone listen to Jonah's message of repentance except Jonah?
Why are many Christians like Jonah? Jonah's problem and sin was
unforgiveness. He refused to forgive the hateful Ninevites. Many
Christians have more in common with Jonah than with Jesus. We must
forgive our enemies and those who have hurt us. Then we will have a
heart for evangelization and with it, Christ's peace.