When most people read the story of Jonah, the thing that jumps out the most is the fact that Jonah was running from God. Naturally, all that running resonates. Most of us can relate to running away from God.
However, there’s another side to Jonah. Jonah provides a profound lesson on the toxicity of hatred and disdain for unbelievers – hostility towards people who practice religions with which we disagree – bigotry towards people who are unlike us, spiritually.
Jonah wasn’t just running away from God but was also battling with a religious spirit – a spirit tempered by a coldness towards those who didn’t believe. Jonah lacked compassion. He lacked empathy. He struggled with the idea that a nation of unbelievers deserved mercy.
Like Jonah, we have to be careful not to run away from the will of God in our lives. But, we also have to remember to have compassion on the people that God loves – which is everyone. The same God that extended His mercy to Nineveh is the same God who extends His mercy to all of us.
We must have compassion for the world. God is not a God of hatred. God is love. He loves people; He loves us all. Jesus is for everybody.