“The word of the LORD came to Jonah…‘Go...’ But Jonah ran away from the LORD…After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed…to flee from the LORD” Jonah 1:1, 3.
Jonah just paid for the most expensive ticket available – the ticket of disobedience. God called Jonah to go to the city where great wickedness existed, and preach of God’s upcoming discipline if they did not turn from their ways. Jonah, full of disdain and bitterness towards the people, didn’t want them to be saved. He felt they didn’t deserve forgiveness and pardon, and judged their faith. I believe he suffered from spiritual elitism. He clearly was called to faith and forgiveness for these people but bought a ticket on USS Disobedience.
God has made it crystal clear that we are to display our faith to all people in love, forgiveness and humility. We are all called to go…forgive…testify…love. We are not called to judge the faith of another and create barriers in our fellowship with God. ‘…have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?’ ‘Speak and act as those who are going to be judged…because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful’ James 2:12. ‘Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?’ James 4:11-12. So the word of the Lord comes to us…but do we flee? Do we buy a ticket to nowhere and sail away on our own self-righteousness?
In God we claim that we love…and yet we judge. We claim because of God we walk in the light…and yet we hide in the darkness of our bitterness. We claim we walk in the will of God…and yet we buy a ticket fleeing away from His commands through our unforgiveness.
We must be people who practice what we preach. We must purge ourselves of the very things of which we feel entitled…bitterness, resentfulness and an unwillingness to forgive. Instead of words, our actions must speak our faith so that our testimonies and ministries will be authentic.
‘We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.’ 2 Co. 6:3.