An Uncomfortable Calling: What Jonah Can Teach Us About Cultural Engagement

The Bible speaks to every facet of life, and we are called to engage culture faithfully, in every square inch of God’s creation. This is not merely a suggestion for Christians to consider only when the road is easy and the work is comfortable; it is something we’re commanded to do, even and especially when facing uncomfortable opposition.

Thinking about faithful cultural engagement as a Christian in the twenty-first century, I can’t help but think of the phrase, “easier said than done!” Of course we want to honor God and serve Him faithfully. It’s when we face criticism, opposition, and even the threat of being ‘canceled’ that we waver and ask, “Really God? Are you sure? Because this isn’t easy!”

One story of the human heart’s resistance to this uncomfortable call is the Biblical account of Jonah and the whale. Jonah was called to proclaim God’s message of repentance to Nineveh. He was commanded: ““Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Yet Jonah resisted, fearful of the task at hand, and fled to Tarshish.

After a violent storm at sea followed by three days and three nights spent in the belly of a whale, Jonah eventually made his way to Nineveh as God had commanded. To Jonah’s surprise, he had great success proclaiming the need for repentance. Jonah even found an audience with the king, who received Jonah’s message favorably. The king took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth, sat down in the dust, and issued a proclamation for all of Nineveh to repent and turn from their wicked ways.

Imagine if Jonah had embraced God’s call at the onset, instead of worrying about all that could go wrong. Truthfully, it would have saved him a lot of anguish and heartache. Things would have smelled better, too.

Just like Jonah, we too are called to carry the torch to the darkest corners of the earth. Whether in the realm of politics, education, arts, or business, we are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom, agents of transformation and reconciliation in a fractured world. It is a divine charge to share the message of redemption with a world longing for direction, meaning, and purpose.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom, agents of transformation and reconciliation in a fractured world.

With this in mind, we must acknowledge that there is no guarantee our message of hope and truth will always be welcomed, as it ultimately was in the story of Jonah. God knows this… God knows the exact trials and tribulations that will come our way, and He calls us to faithfully engage anyway. We must recognize that just because it is a divine calling doesn’t mean it will be easy. Just because God has tasked us with a mission, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a piece of cake.

In the face of criticism and opposition, we must not shrink back or succumb to the pressures of conformity. Instead, let us stand firm in faith, rooted in the unchanging truth of God’s Word. And as we are attacked, canceled, or worse by those who disagree, let us not be provoked into a dishonoring spirit. Despite how we are treated, may we respond with grace, having the confidence that we are ambassadors of the King.

For in the fulfillment of this calling lies the fulfillment of our purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as we play a part in His grand narrative of redemption. As we engage the culture, let us approach it in a clear-eyed fashion, acknowledging that it won’t be easy, but it is exactly what we’ve been called to do.

We may want to flee like Jonah, but we must run to Nineveh instead.


Resources for you

Resources for you

Share this post:

Subscribe To Our Resources Newsletter

No spam, stay up to date on new articles, resources and events!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Resource Newsletter

Get notified about new articles from the Institute.