Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:26 am Post subject: "Do You Really Care?"
It can be a challenge sometimes to allow God to be master and Lord of our lives. God called Jonah for a special task. There was a city in great need, Nineveh. Its sins were great, its people had no understanding of God or of their sinful ways and God called Jonah to go there. This was a city Jonah wanted nothing to do with, a group of people he cared nothing about. So when God called him to go, he ran in the opposite direction. By the time we get to Chapter 3 verse 10, he has been belched up on the shore from the belly of a fish. He enters the city reluctantly and he proclaims to them the message of the Lord because he figures there is no way out of this. So he goes in halfheartedly and says God says change your ways or He is going to destroy you. The people did change their ways and repented and God decided not to destroy them.
Jonah was furious with God, he lost his temper, he yelled at God. The message version says, ďI knew this was going to happen. Thatís 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.Ē You ever had something happen in your life that didnít go the way you thought it should. God this is how I think it should be done but God doesnít do it that way. Thatís where Jonah is. As I see it, these people deserve what they get, why do you have to be so merciful? I donít understand why you are letting them off the hook. Thatís really what he is complaining about. There is something beautiful about that passage. We look at that passage and see that Jonah is enraged and some of us are shocked. This is God you are yelling at. You see his problem is real. He could have said Iím angry with God but Iím not going to yell at Him because that is not the right thing to do. But you see, God already knows what is in our hearts. I think He appreciates the reality. In Jonahís case, Jonah is so biased against the Ninevehites, he canít accept the grace God has given them. Listen again to Jonahís complaint Ė I knew you O God are sheer grace and mercy. Isnít that terrible, God is sheer grace and mercy? God is not easily angered. You are rich in love and you are ready to forgive at the drop of a hat. Wow, isnít that awful? We like the entire world deserve Godís punishment. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all come to God with our imperfections. Jonah is so frustrated over this he tells God, if you wonít kill them, then kill me. Canít you see the child pouting in the room? He runs and he pouts.
He went out of the city and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter and sat down hoping God will just blow them off the face of the earth. God arranged for a broad leaf tree to grow up over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of the angry sulk. He was feeling better and then God sent a worm. By dawn the next day, the worm bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and beat down on Jonah. Again Jonah prayed to die. Then God said to Jonah, what right do you have to get angry about this shade tree? You didnít plant it or water it. It grew up overnight and died the next. Jonah had more compassion for this tree than Nineveh because it did something for him. Why canít I likewise change my mind from anger to pleasure for these 120,000 people who donít yet know right from wrong? You care more about yourself and this plant than you do about 120,000 souls.
This story brings out the ultimate question that we hear in a hymn the choir sings, Do you really care? Do you know how to share with people everywhere? I look around in the place where I live and I see people with so much to give yet there are those who are dying to know just that someone cares. People lost in darkness, searching for the way. Do you know of someone you can help today? Do you care? Do you know how to share with people everywhere? Do you really care?
We donít like it when friends are sick, neighbors are struggling, when family members are hurting, I really do care. What about that homeless person on the street who reeks of whiskey, dressed in rags? We can be like Jonah, they can be our Nineveh. What about the murderer or the pedophile? God cares about them too. In our own self-righteousness we forget something very important. It is not God who ranks sin, its man. The very nature of God is that He loves each and every one of us and He gives each person the opportunity. Our God is a God of sheer grace and mercy, that Heís not easily angered; He is rich in love and ready at the drop of a hat to turn punishment into a program of forgiveness. Can you love others with that same passion?
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