Have you ever taken inventory on your compassion for those who are “far from God?” We’ve been looking at the story (and character) of Jonah these past few weeks, and so far he doesn’t look too good. At least from this reading, his “credits” don’t look as visible as his “discredits.” I was just wondering if, like me, when you look in your mirror you also see a bit of Jonah’s reflection. Just asking.
Do I have any “Ninevites” in my heart? Do you? These could be individuals or groups of people. I know some people who follow Jesus (I’ll just say they are Christians) who are angryat some people because they don’t believe in the same way they do. They don’t reserve this anger exclusively to people who are not Christians. They have a surplus of anger available to spill over to other believers who may interpret scripture or believe some non-essential things differently than them. I think they need to get over that, don’t you? Especially being angry with those who are not yet people of faith.
Why be angry because the Spirit of God and the witness of Christians have not yet moved them to faith? I think somewhere in scripture we’re told a truth that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” I think that’s in 2 Cor. 4:4 but you might check that out. The devil is a pretty worrisome force to reckon with and to overcome. For some of you reading this, you really need to know that one’s journey to faith is not always a smooth or trouble-free path.
Many of our personal “Ninevites” have defenses (fortresses) which rival the biblical nation of Nineva. Some of these may be self-constructed, but others might have evolved from a lifetime of conditioning. Either way, these defenses may be strong, making these people hard to reach with our love, the love of God and especially with the appeal of the gospel. But God. But God is concerned for ALL people, and He has the ability to overcome strongholds as well as to re-make hearts. Our God has compassion for all people. Our God and Jonah’s God has no room for prejudice. The Hebrews were His “chosen ones” and were principally given the opportunity to present God to the world. God, because of His compassion, did not allow the hardness of His very own prophet (Jonah) to keep Him from manifesting His mercy and grace to the world’s fiercest nation and see them gloriously respond to Him.
As followers of Christ, we are embodied with the compassion God feels for His creation. Through Christ we have the power to change the course of many people’s lives. Permit my small “enhancements” to 1 Cor. 1:18 which says “The word (message) of the cross (gospel) is foolishness to those who are perishing (on course to remain far from God), but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!” The devil as referenced above in 2 Cor. 4:4 has done a pretty good job making you and me and the gospel look kind of odd and foolish.
It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but not everyone is going to like us, going to like God or going to apply God’s rich offer of forgiveness and salvation to their lives. That should not affect our mission to help people find God and follow Him. “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to one a fragrance from death to death, for the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor. 2:15) The offense of those who reject God is not against you or me. It is God’s offense to deal with. As such, we must not make the mistake Jonah made which allowed his fear, pride and prejudice to compromise God’s purpose of reaching the people He loves. By the way, didn’t the book of Jonah end abruptly? What became of Jonah? Think About It.