Don’t Be Jonah! Practical Tips for Loving the Nations

It is easy to look at Jonah in the Bible, point the finger (as we’ve been doing in our current series), and believe that you and I are not like Jonah in how we view other people. We tell ourselves that we deeply care about other nations. But there are two common ways that we demonstrate we do not love the nations.

  1. We want to run in the opposite direction from them or avoid any contact with people from other nations because like Jonah, you and I have no desire to know them. I see them in the grocery store…they are not speaking English…they don’t act or respond the way I want…I feel snubbed and wonder to myself what they are even doing here.
  2. In effort to make peace and not be called intolerant, I go out my way to be nice and befriend people of other nations, and that’s it — it never goes further. Wow look at how great I am…I am so tolerant and loving…I am a great Christian…I had a 5-minute conversation and learned about their culture and food. Check.

In both cases, where is the love of God for the world on display?

The love of God most displayed in the good news about Jesus Christ. In the book of Jonah, the people of Nineveh said, “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:9 NASB). The good news of Christ is so much better! We can know for sure that God has shown mercy. The blood of Jesus Christ and the empty tomb give us assurance that God’s mercy and eternal life is available to all who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ.

The following are helpful tips to begin to engage and show love for the nations around you for opportunities to share the gospel.

Tip #1

Invite them regularly and often to your home so they can see the gospel lived out and hear it naturally in your life in your conversations with your spouse, children, and friends.

Example 1: My in-laws would invite college international students to their children’s birthday parties and the students would always come.

Example 2: Meet intentionally for lunch with an international co-worker, student or employee — once a week and every week.

Living life together by including them in everything you are already doing is the best way for you to model what it means to follow Christ, and provides you with the most gospel sharing opportunities.

Tip #2

Ask them: Who are two people that have really impacted your life? Why were they so impactful for you?

Follow up by asking them what were some of the most impactful words the significant people said or moments they shared together. You can also ask them if they think the two people who influenced their life had fulfilling/successful lives and have them explain why or why not.

This question helps you begin to learn about what they view as meaningful, valuable, important in life, and often things they really desire. Then help them see how the good news of Jesus Christ impacts what they value.

Tip #3

Pray for them regularly using Scripture to help guide you in praying.

Prayer keeps you dependent on God and gives you a deep loving burden for them like Christ. The more you sacrifice your time to pray for them, the more your love for the nations around you will increase. You can visit http://www.operationworld.org/  to learn about ways you can be praying for specific nations.

Aaron BirkAaron Birk
Aaron Birk is a Pastoral Intern at Faith Church serving in college ministries with Purdue Bible Fellowship. Aaron graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Management and a BS in Accounting. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Divinity at Faith Bible Seminary. He is married to his wife Tirzah.