Movies use it; TV shows refer to; and we can all relate to it in some way. What are we talking about? Someone sitting alone at a table during lunch. We all experience it in childhood, either as the person sitting by ourselves or sitting with the crowd looking on, it's something we're all aware of.
And the introductory verses of Jonah speak to this very issue. How? Jonah, the prophet is called by God to go and speak to people who have no concern or thought of God. Yet this isn't how it works; the prophet is supposed to speak to the people of God, not those on the outside, not those sitting by themselves. God is calling Jonah to go beyond the crowd, the friends, the insiders to speak to those on the outside, to speak to the person sitting at the table by themselves.
What does Jonah do? He runs the other way.
So the question for us is this: Do we do the same? When we read through scripture it becomes clear that God is constantly inviting the other to the table. Whether it's a pagan like Abram, or a prostitute like Rahab, a prodigal son, or a tax collector, God clearly wants them to move from the table where they sat alone and join us. But we run away. How? We run in to our academics and lose ourselves there. Important as they are, they can become our everything. Even our extracurricular activities fill our time.
Can I say, respectfully, that as important as they are, you have a greater, more glorious calling and adventure for your life? You are called to invite the other to our table, to go to the outsider and say, "Come join us, you're more than welcome!"
So ask yourself this, "Are you inviting others to the table or are you running away?"