Monday, October 3, 2011

Noah, a story of God's Amazing Grace

I like being a United Methodist.  I think John Wesley was onto something when we emphasized the many facets of God's Grace (love).  The familiar story of Jonah and his time in the whale is a story of that grace. 

Assyria was a rising power in the Middle East.  There army was fierce and they lacked little compassion for those that they conquered.  Israel is being threatened by Assyria.  Jonah is a citizen of Israel.  He has no love for Assyria.  They are enemies.  They are godless.  They are vile and vicious. And then God asks him to go to Assyria, to their capital city of Ninevah and preach to them about their need to repent of their violence.  He is called by God to offer God's forgiveness to them if they will turn from their idols and declare Jehovah, the God of the Israelites to be their God.

Jonah doesn't want to do this.  He is fearful that God will forgive his enemies.  His fearful that God will bless his enemies.  He doesn't want his enemies to be forgiven or blessed.  He wants God to smite them with a mighty blow.  He wants God to curse his enemies.

Doesn't that sound just like us.  Surely God can see the weakness of character in our enemy.  Surely God will want justice for our enemy.  Surely God will blast them with one of his heavenly lasers and give them just what you think they deserve.  Trouble is for Jonah and for us (maybe I should say thankfully for Jonah and for us), God loves his creation.....fallen though it may be.  He desires blessing for us(and for the Assyrians in our lives).  He longs that none would be lost.  All that is required is that they would turn from their sin and ask God to intervene in their hearts.

Jonah knew full well that God was a God of love.  He had received that love and that forgiveness that he did not want to offer to the Ninevites.  Who are you withholding forgiveness from?  Who are you seeking vengeance on rather than grace?  What does the story of Jonah tell us about who God would ask us to offer his grace too?  Pray that we would never be judged in the way that we judge rather that God would shower us with the Grace that will save us from our sin.

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