Archive for May 4th, 2017

A little boy, the story goes, is jumping up and down in the back seat as his father drives along.  His father, looking in the mirror, sternly tells him to sit down.  The child takes no notice.  The father repeats the instruction.  No change.  Finally, the father pulls the car in, turns around and explains the extremely serious consequences if the boy doesn’t sit down.  Continuing along the road, the child is finally still.  “That’s better,” says his father contentedly.  Scowling back in the mirror the child says, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but inside I’m standing up.”

And so too is Jonah.  He’s done what was asked of him.  He’s preached in Nineveh.   He’s called the people to repentance and there is a national turning to God. But not for one second has his heart been in it.  He’s never agreed with God that Nineveh should be given an opportunity to escape judgment.  The Assyrians have been a terrible and harsh enemy.   We find him now cross and miserable: “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home?  That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

Are we sometimes caught in disagreement with God like Jonah?  Do we meet situations or people where we simply can’t agree that they should be treated mercifully?  They deserve what’s coming to them. Mercy is a curious thing.  It often doesn’t make sense from our perspective. But mercy is so central to Jesus’ call to his followers that to walk and work alongside God we have to be willing to see from His perspective, where mercy and forgiveness triumph over judgment every time.  Otherwise we will end up fed up like Jonah.   Because of course, mercy is the way He dealt with our sin at the cross.  And we’re to offer mercy to others on the basis that we ourselves have received it.  Jonah seems to have momentarily forgotten about the whale, an example of God’s mercy to him for which he was very grateful!

God gives Jonah a final little object lesson with a vine which essentially conveys this message gently, “Give up your limited, self-interested judgments about right and wrong and come up higher.  Enlarge your heart towards the people I’ve made, whoever they are. See it my way.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For thought: Are there situations today where we’re finding it hard to agree with God and extend mercy? God says, “Come up higher.  See it my way.  I have SO loved the world.”

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