Two thoughts crossed my mind this morning as I was reading the account of Jonah’s second announcement from God (“post-whale,” JON 3: 1-10). First I mused on the fact that Nineveh was such a big city that it took three days to go through it. I wondered how long it would take now to traverse a place like New York City and whether the walk would include all five boroughs and maybe some further-out suburbs. Since Jonah was giving a warning about destruction of the city, it would seem that he would have needed to check in everywhere.
My following thought was more to the point and more complicated to consider. Actually, it became a whole rush of questions. I’ll use New York as an example because it is a big city but not to judge the population in any way. What if there was a clear message from God that the city and all its inhabitants were to be destroyed in 40 days unless everyone repented (honestly, not just mouthing the words) of all their sins. Maybe sackcloth and ashes wouldn’t do for evidence. Maybe it would need to be huge prayer vigils and “random acts of kindness” in addition to the fasting.
I hesitated to write that because it sounds – even in the face of my disclaimer above – that I am speaking of a vengeful God who punishes wrong with destruction. That’s not it at all. As a matter of fact, I’ve been seeing evidence of lovingkindness on the evening news lately which renews my hope. I’m speaking of a day when self-interest would be put aside in favor of unity and light.
Are we there yet? Could we do it city by city at least in our country? What about where you live? Would I be willing to propagate the message? First, I would need to believe in the possibility of success. Then I would need to gather people who believe we are capable of convincing others because of the sincerity and light coming from inside all the speakers. That’s just the beginning, I guess. Call me crazy, but who knows what could happen if we really decided for God and put our minds and the entire power of our loving hearts into it?