Yesterday I began a 2 week sermon series on the book of Jonah and the story of a prophet who is defiant and disobedient to the call of His God. It seems absolutely relevant in this time as images of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville are all over the news; including stories of violence and terror. Many of these racists even have the audacity to claim their faith in God informs their beliefs on race. It's evil. But it's familiar.
Jonah was told by God to go to a people that he hated to tell them that they'd better repent or they would be judged. And he ran. But he didn't run because he was afraid. He ran because he knew that God was merciful and he didn't want God to forgive those whom Jonah hated. He didn't want his enemies to experience the love of their Creator.
As this group of white Americans look at people with darker skin as a hated "other" who they want to "take their country back from", I see the hate of Jonah. A people who can't imagine God's love extending to those they hate and fear. But this is defiance toward the God who created, loves, and sent His Son for every one of His children of this world. (As the song says, "red, brown, yellow, black, and white.")
But I also see myself in Jonah as I look toward the disgusting acts of white supremacy. Like Jonah I want to see judgment and condemnation for people that could treat others with such hate. (After all, there may have been some legitimacy to Jonah's anger toward Ninevah.) But I too must obey the call to love and forgive those who commit atrocities. And to proclaim the Gospel to them. So I have to search my heart too, for the sin that lurks in my thoughts towards those that do such terrible things.
We are broken; all of us. And things have to change. The sins of Jonah don't have to live on in us. And I believe Jesus is actively working to bring reconciliation to this world. May we be a part of that work.