God didn’t use Jonah’s sulky obedience and then reject him because of his bad attitude.
Even after Jonah ranted at God saying that he was angry enough to die, God didn’t give up on him but graciously explained himself. We don’t know that Jonah ever truly ‘got it’ about the inclusiveness of God’s love. Curiously, his story leaves us wondering; but maybe that’s a good thing for those of us Christians who also struggle at times to accept the will and ways of God with us and the world. Jonah’s experience put me in mind of a comment C.S.Lewis made in ‘Mere Christianity’. He wrote, “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
The apostle Paul, before he met the resurrected Jesus, was as clueless about the love of God as Jonah and equally convinced that it could not extend to the gentiles in the way that Jesus taught. But God didn’t give up on Paul either. Like Jonah, the pious Pharisee could not escape from the grace of God. Not only would he come to Christ but he would willingly go to the very gentiles he had despised, preaching that grace, repentance and faith was just as much for them as it was for him.
And he would write, ‘Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them…. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 New Living Translation
I wished Jonah could read that but then I realized he already knows it better than any of us because God, who wouldn’t give up on him, has I am sure already taken the time to graciously explain himself.