Moving my way slowly through Jonah, I am convicted at the end of this brief (yet powerful) story about priorities. God gives Jonah a dressing down, because his are all screwed up. Namely, he gets more disgusted over the loss of a plant than the potential loss of 120,000+ people. Listen in:
Jonah 4.10 ¶ Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.
Jonah 4.11 But 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?” (NLT-SE)
Do you notice that God equates their feelings? He uses the same word. Jonah feels sorry for a plant, God feels sorry for the city. So the question I ask myself this morning is this – what gets me upset? What do I spend most of my time feeling sorry for or about? Stuff? Circumstances? Myself?
Or am I outwardly focused and concerned that I am surrounded, ironically, by a little metro area here in central Minnesota that numbers around 120,000?
I’d like for God to break my heart for “people living in spiritual darkness,” and I’d like for that to grab the attention of my pity (to “feel sorry for”). It is the cold heart, too wrapped up in the cares of the day and not the destiny of people, that functionally acts this way:
We are God’s chosen few,
All others will be damned;
There is no place in heaven for you,
We can’t have heaven crammed. (Jonathan Swift)
May God give us a great vision for our cities – whatever city that is for you – and may the kind of revival we see in this story be repeated in our time and places.