|Posted on March 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM|
This Friday, the passage of scripture that we've been given to write on is Jonah chapters 3 and 4. If y'all don't mind, I'll be focussing on Chapter 4. Let me bring you up to speed with what's been going since Jonah's was vomited up. He went to Nineveh and delivered the message that he was given - that Nineveh would be destroyed because of the people's wicked ways. When the Ninevites heard this, they went into full repentance mode in the hope that God might not destroy them. When God saw that they had turned away from their wicked ways, He changed His mind and didn't carry out His threat.
And now we arrive at chapter 4 with Jonah angry at God.
And for what reason? Because of the grace that He'd displayed to the Ninevites in the last chapter.
Yes. You read that correctly. Jonah who had intentionally run away from God and had received God's grace was angry that that same grace had been bestowed on someone else.
Every time I read this chapter, I'm appalled all over again. The funny thing is, as a child hearing the story of Jonah, I never heard this part. The story always ended with the Ninevites being saved and choosing to live according to God's will.
Not with this Jonah who was acting like a Pharisee.
When I read this chapter, it made me think of when the Pharisees were angry with Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. Instead of being happy at the miraculous and good thing that had happened, they focused on the rule that had been broken.
And that's how Jonah was acting; instead of feeling joy at the miraculous display of God's grace, he chose to be angry because - in his mind - the Ninevites didn't deserve it.
1-2 Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” (Jonah 4:1-3 MSG)
Does this make you (want to) shake your head? Do you feel annoyed at how petulant Jonah's behaving? Here he is listing off God's amazing qualities as if they're the problem; saying that he didn't want to go to Nineveh because he knew that God might choose to save these people. And he hadn't wanted them to be saved.
How sad is that? He didn't want people to come to God.
How sad is it that we are still doing this today?
Yes, I just said that. Let's look at ourselves in spiritual mirrors because then we'll see that we are no better than Jonah.
Because it is so easy to shake our heads at the awful behaviour of people in the world and not pray for them.
Because it is so easy to look at someone and think: 'How could God save You? How could Jesus die for you?'
Because it is so easy to judge people upon sight and write them off as gone, un-save-able, un-help-able.
Because, for some reason, it is so easy to forget where God saved us from, how He bestowed His grace on us.
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:22-23 NLT emphasis mine)
Can we remember that?
Because the world sees a lot of us, Christians, like Jonah or the Pharisees.
As dictionary.com puts it - like "sanctimonious, self-righteous, hypocritical" people.
So, can we prove that wrong?
Let's not look at ourselves as anything but someone who wasn't worth saying.
People who are products of grace and who wish that everyone and anyone would experience it.
In an opera house, there are seats for VIPs, seats that are above everyone else.
We are not that. We are not above anyone else. We are on the same level, just having passed from darkness into light. Therefore, we do not look down at anyone. We look right at them and beckon them over to the light.
Because if God ever asks us the same question He asked Jonah: ... “What do you have to be angry about?” (Jonah 4:3 MSG)
It would be horrible for us to answer that we are angry at ...
What brings salvation to all people. - Titus 2:11
What we were called by before we were even born. - Galatians 1:15
His free and undeserved gift. - Romans 11:5-6
(put simply) Grace.
Rather, you [we] must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18a NLT)
When I read/hear the word "grow", I think of flowers.
Flowers grow and flourish in the sunlight. Flowers point to their source. They are seriously looking up to what is giving them what they need to grow.
Let's be like them and grow in the Son's light. Let's point to Him in everything we do. Let us grow so much in His grace that it's all people see when they look at us.
Unlike Jonah, we will not angry at grace - we will grow in it.
Looking forward to #GrowingInGrace with you all.
Categories: Roars in response to Scripture