The story of Jonah is in many ways a perfect example of how a person can become so comfortable in their own faith that they don’t want to bother encountering those who might be hostile. It is very much the story of many Christians in the United States today.
God called Jonah out of his comfortable daily faith and told him to journey to Nineveh and warn the people of their coming destruction. Nineveh was a large city in the kingdom of Assyria and the Bible tells us that is was “exceedingly wicked”. As a Hebrew prophet among Assyrians, Jonah was convinced that they would not listen. He also must have feared that they would see him as unbalanced or out of his mind rather than as a wise man of God. At worst, it is possible that Jonah feared actual physical harm.
So in the face of discrimination, loss of status/respect, and fear of his well being, Jonah simply ran away. And in this attempt to keep his own comfort – to run away from those who would laugh at his faith – Jonah created a disaster for those around him. Aboard the getaway ship caught in the middle of a life threatening storm everyone around Jonah worries, “Something is not right here”.
Today, as so many people run or hide from serving God in our culture, it becomes more and more clear that “something isn’t right”. As fewer Christians seem willing to live out God’s commands the waters are getting pretty rough and the storm grows pretty threatening. Maybe we all need to take a lesson from Jonah and admit “It’s my fault. I am the cause of the storm”, stop hiding, and face the often uncomfortable job of being faithful in a pretty faithless culture.
After all, once he got there, Nineveh’s response was not what Jonah expected.