I just finished doing a study and writing a paper through the book of Jonah. It is funny how the hundreds of times that I heard this story growing up, even took part in a program called, "Go Go Jonah", that I never got some of the stuff out of that book that I did in this study and I believe I am not alone in that. As a side note, I still have, wear, and cherish the shirt from that program that I participated in at eight years old. It is an adult small and amongst my too small, but wear anyway t-shirt collection.
I often find myself like Jonah. I have embraced and enjoy the compassion that God has shown me, but I often do not want God to show that same compassion to others. Let me explain, in regards to being missional, I find it easy to show compassion and care for those that I like, are like me, and who I find it worth my time and effort to reach out to. On the flip-side of that I tend to not care about the people who I generally do not get along with or often times are not like me and my personality. It was only recently that I came to understand and realize that in reality I desire to show them no compassion and by choosing not to share Jesus with them I am saying that I don't care if God shows them compassion.
Jonah 4:1(ESV) "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry," referring to the compassion that the Lord had shown to the people of Nineveh, whom he had no compassion. I often find myself with this attitude towards people or a group of people and it very well maybe a person or group of people that God has called me to share his love and compassion with just as was the case with Jonah. Jonah was not a good prophet in this story, even upon his obedience to go to Nineveh he was angry at God's mercy.
I believe many of us are like this in our everyday lives when we see a certain person or type of people come to embrace the saving grace of Christ when we believe they did not deserve it or we were looking forward to them receiving "what they deserved", which in reality is the same that we deserve about from Christ.
So take away points are that God saved Nineveh through a selfish man, Jonah, and he can also use you and me, selfish men to reach our "Nineveh's. Jonah's true heart was revealed here and it is a good reminder to examine our own heart where we are, whether that be the slums of India or in Urban Chicago.