Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Learning About Love - Pt. IV

(click for sources, dawg)

Jonah might be my least favorite character of the Bible.
Putting it nicely, he's a douche bag.
He's so whiny.
He's selfish and narrow sighted.
He's mean.
And, you probably saw this coming, he reveals the things in me I hate the most.

Let's flash forward past that whale incident and to find Jonah sitting on a hill outside of Nineveh waiting for God to destroy the city.
He is:



Jonah didn't want to be there in the first place. It was nothing short of a freak incident that brought Jonah there at all. But here he is, sitting outside of this "great city" (Jonah 1:2, 3:3) and all he does is give a lackluster turn-or-burn speech (literally "you guys are going to die in 40 days") and everyone repents.


I mean, think about all the disciples who knew they were essentially going to their deaths by bringing the Word of the Lord to new places. That was Jesus' fate, too. And Jonah? He walks into town, barely does his job, and everyone is immediately changed.

Instead of sticking around or rejoicing, Jonah goes and sits on a hill and waits for God to smite everyone. He's mad when He doesn't. God spares the city,
"but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry." (Jonah 4:1)


So where am I in this mix? I've been learning about love. I've been asking God to show me how to be better at it and I find myself surrounded by this community. Some are very easy to love- they make me laugh, they get what I'm about, I get what they're about.

Some are, well, not.
And especially in learning to love the difficult ones, it has only become more and more apparent just how wretched I am. Wretched, as in "miserable; unhappy; causing distress; pitiable; vile".

Really? That bad? Aren't you being a little dramatic?

I have never felt so out of control in my life.
And it's not because I've been hitting the sauce.
I've just started listening to the things I say.
I see how I treat people.
I'm so whiny.

I'm selfish and narrow sighted.

I'm mean.

It's pretty disgusting.

Every word that comes out of my mouth, every move I make, I now have to study intensely.
"Am I doing that thing again? The thing where I'm a jerk?"
How have I had friends?!

So what does this all mean?
Neil Hoppe, whom I adore for many reason, including his keen insight into a beast's heart, shared with me some thoughts from a favorite of his, Eugene Peterson. After reading me some portions of "The Wisdom of Each Other", he told me that learning and being willing to love others despite their flaws will reveal our own depravity and ultimately reveal how tremendous God's grace is.

I can't love other people with my whole heart
without catching a glimpse at just how unlovely I am.

There isn't enough space in this blog for me to tell you how disheartening it is to really look at what goes on in my heart. However painful and embarrassing, it's a process I'm glad to go through. Using my life for good is only evidence that God exists and is patient.

So there.
I'm still working out what all of this means.

I love you.


Seth said...

A few years ago I blogged about this part of Jonah's story, only I was too self-absorbed and angry to see the point of the story, and my post was simply a 500 word rant about how mean God is in this story. Why give him a tree only to take it away and then reprimand and shame Jonah for being upset that it was gone? That just seemed baiting and cruel.
Then I matured a slight amount and realized that Jonah was genuinely a whiny little bastard. I just didn't want to admit that because I related to the guy so much.
So the point of all of this is, stop copying my blog.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt said...

I just wanted to say that I think you are one of the kindest people I have ever met. You are very thoughtful, generous, and loving so don't get so down on yourself.

Neil Hoppe said...

Funny. I'm trying to finish a slam poem about Jonah right now.

But here's the really great part. I LOVE Jonah. Because he is such a whiny toolbag. And God STILL loves him, STILL cares enough about Jonah to patiently explain why He's doing what He's doing.

It gives me hope. Cause I'm a selfish douchebag too. Often, in my lowest moments of self-loathing, I'll turn to Jonah and here God whisper, "it's okay. You weren't the first one like this."

What's interesting is that we don't see Jonah's response to God's explanation. But I think that's the point. It doesn't matter how Jonah responded. It only matters how we do. Do we continue to whine and sulk, or do we repond to God's call?

You're doing good.