Recently the Relay For Life of Polk County held their fifth annual Celebrity Waiter fundraiser. As a member of the planning committee, I spent many hours on the phone asking people if they would like to participate. As I contacted person after person, I started feeling rejected because I wasn’t getting any positive responses.
I understand that people lead busy lives; I know that I do. I also know that people have many charities and organizations asking for their time and money. As a business owner, I have to say “no” to many people myself. Even though I understand the reasons, it is a bit depressing to hear the word “no” so many times.
There could easily have been a third son in this parable: The father says, "Go work in my vineyard." The son says, "No." There's a discussion between father and son and in the end, the son says, "Fine! I'll go and work in your stupid vineyard. Now quit pestering me."
He's the son who gives grudging obedience, half-hearted obedience. The Bible has several examples of this half-hearted obedience. We have all heard the story of Jonah. He was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it.
Why did Jonah disobey God and take a voyage to Tarshish? Jonah was a prophet and received messages directly from God. You would think that when God said, “Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh,” that Jonah – the prophet – would obey. So why didn't Jonah go?
Ninevah was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, Israel's direct enemy. If there was one nationality that Israel hated and wanted to wipe off the face of the Earth, it was the Assyrians. The Assyrians were powerful, destructive, and ruthless with any nation getting in their way.
The command that God gave Jonah is the same message that we find in the great commission given by Jesus. In Matthew 28:19,20 (NKJV) Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus has told us to get up and go. Where are you going? Are you on the road to Nineveh or a voyage to Tarshish? We have a message to spread around the world, but we have failed. We have passed judgment on many of those around us. We say "they don't deserve the love of God; they don't deserve my time because they are no good.”