Back when I was a teenager, I used to belong to a small community church run by family members. The church would grow because kids got married and had more kids. The church was passed on by and to generation after generation after generation.
Then years later, we had a non-family member pastor that was a bit radical in bringing in people to church. He was so successful in reaching out to people, that week after week, the church would always be an SRO (Standing Room Only.)
Instead of being happy the church was growing, members got upset that they were “infiltrated” by non-family members. They got so upset to the point of saying “this church needs quality, not quantity”, seriously? When their place in the church was threatened, they slowly edged the pastor out of the picture. New members stumbled and didn’t get the spiritual nourishment they deserved and needed. They left because they were ostracized in the process. Sadly, the church eventually returned to its original state of just family members.
Even to this day, I still wonder about what she meant when she said “quality”. Was it education, money and prestige that makes believers quality Christians? After all their family was rich and politically affiliated.
But in Jesus’ days, the rich was often rebuked and challenged. He went after the underdogs, poor, underprivileged and the common masses. He never spoke of being quality Christians because we all know that we all don’t deserve anything. God does not and did not teach us entitlement. He taught us how to be Christ-like and being a brat is not one of the traits.
I think, like Jonah we are selective in the ministry God calls us to be in. No one wants to be the pantry girl on Sundays. No one wants to clean the church for free after the service. It is always reserved for the “lowly”. Really??
Jesus not only washed the feet of the disciples, he even kissed them! Talk about servant leadership here.
When Jonah got mad at God for forgiving Assyria, he justified his anger by saying:
“Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.
Not only was he a brat, he was creating drama to make his case valid and in the Lord’s face he was saying ” you were gonna forgive them anyway, so why did you have to bother me?”
Sounds familiar? Is that relatable?
When Jonah was taken out of his comfort zone and his situation was not at all comfortable, he started to throw a fit. God must be saying to him ” you brat, I should have made the whale poop you out down south” , but He did not.
Instead, God made a poignant reminder of how believers have a distorted sense of priority-grieving over a dead vine than rejoicing about winning souls.
Are you being a Jonah? Then take your case up with the Lord and forget about your sense of entitlement because you have none. We are where we are because of God’s grace and compassion. And that is not exclusive to just you (or me), we are the modern-day Jonahs , for the modern-day Assyria so to speak.