“But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?’” — Jonah 4:10–11 (NIV84)
So, we have reached the end of the book of Jonah. Do you all feel as uneasy as I do? I have to admit that this whole journey through the book of Jonah has been a challenging experience for me. It has been good for me to be challenged about my idea of God’s grace. But now, as we reach the end of the book, it ends with a question. Seriously, God is always, for me, an exclamation point, not a question. I guess from God’s perspective, it is still an exclamation point. His will was accomplished even through a disobedient and reluctant prophet. But what about the prophet? The question marks are left for him (and for you and me): Did he ever get it? Did all God’s attempts to crack his hardened heart work? Or did Jonah remain religiously bigoted and spiritually cold when it came to God’s grace?
Why would God allow this important book to end with a question mark? I think it is because, for each of us, a decision must be made. Are we willing to understand our true spiritual condition? Do we understand that we, and all humanity, are in the same boat when it comes to our need for God’s grace and forgiveness? Do we understand that Christianity is not a religion of entitlement but of redemption and adoption? None of us deserves God’s grace, but He offers it anyway. Our hearts need to be synced to the heart of God. We need to be children sitting before our gracious heavenly Father. We need to not only know that His grace is for all, but we need to actively support the spread of that grace to the world around us.
Let there be no question mark when it comes to our relationship with God. Let there be no question mark in our view of the world around us. May we see both of these things in the context of grace (God’s undeserved love for His creatures and creation). May our lives be noted as having the boldest exclamation point! May it be an exclamation point that loudly proclaims the certainty of God’s grace and mercy for all who will receive.