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3rd October 2012
"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!'" (Jonah 4:1-2, The Message)
How many people do you know who are angry when they succeed? I would guess not many, but Jonah was. On the surface, Jonah was a very melodramatic man – I guess we might call him a 'drama queen' – who under duress obeys God's will. After his initial reluctance he goes on to do and say all the right things and would appear to be a willing disciple. So why the anger after he completes God's task for him?
I think it was because Jonah was a narrow-minded and small-hearted man. He believed the people of Nineveh should be punished and, while he understood the mercy and grace of God in his own life, he did not believe that others deserved it. As far as he was concerned, their sin was greater than his sin so should be punished. But God thinks differently: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
I wonder how many times on the surface we can say and do the right things... We say we believe God wants us to reach the poor, to help the homeless and care for the vulnerable. We might give time and money, attend prayer meetings, yet our hearts are crying out in anger because really we believe the poor deserve their fate – "after all, there are plenty of jobs out there" or "God helps those who help themselves".
God has asked us to love all people: the good, the bad and the ugly – and the smelly, dirty, alcohol/cigarette-breathing, swearing, blaspheming people! We need to have our hearts enlarged, not to remain small-hearted like Jonah.
Enlarging and stretching can be an unpleasant, painful and difficult process, and being willing and available to go to 'Nineveh' might mean we get abused, hurt and misunderstood. It is a challenge, but one whose rewards are great – seeing even one person touched by God, their life changed forever, will in turn change you forever. Let us be a community extending the love, mercy and grace of God with 'no strings attached'.
Reading: Jonah 4:1-2 in The Message
Question: Are you willing and available to go to all types of people?
Next prayer meetings: Tonight, 7.30pm at THC, and Sunday, 7am at THC
Posted by Anita Rose