In the days following a hotly contested election, I have been thinking a lot about the book of Jonah. God called Jonah and ordered him to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah ran away because he knew God is “a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” He wanted Ninevah destroyed and was enraged when God spared the city.
Jonah was a patriot, and the Assyrian Empire were hated enemies of the nation of Israel. Plus, the Assyrian Empire was horrifyingly brutal. It was not uncommon for people to commit suicide when the Assyrian army approached, to escape torture – including being skinned alive.
We experience deep political divisions in our nation, over a wide variety of political issues. But we do not have Democrats and Republicans massing armies, taking entire cities hostage, skinning each other alive, ripping out tongues, gouging out eyes and so forth. In comparison to Jonah’s grudge against the Assyrian Empire, our political grudges against each other seem minor.
This is not to say our political differences are unimportant. They are not. The policies enacted over the next four, eight and twenty years will impact a lot of people. The “cancel culture” of both the Left and the Right has destroyed the careers of many people. But again, no one is being tortured to death by a rampaging army. Can we please have a sense of proportion, taking a lesson from God’s forgiveness of Nineveh?
Politically conservative Christians, especially, need to take special note of this book of Scripture, especially in an era of intense negative partisanship. Christians who identify as Republicans should not see Democrats as terrible people who are beneath them. If Jonah can be sent to preach God’s love to the Assyrians, then Christian conservatives certainly can have love and compassion for out political opponents. We should also not forget our own sins that would damn us to eternal torment in Hell Fire if not for God’s kindness to us while we were His enemies.