Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Showing Compassionate Intolerance While Living in the Real World

It is no surprise that Easter is around the corner. The stores have been full of Easter 'stuff' that they wish us to buy for a while now. But instead of putting
so much focus on the fluffy fun of eggs and candy and pastel colored flowers, I want to take a moment to focus on Jonah. 
That guy in the bible that was swallowed by a large fish and then spit out. You see, God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah to tell them His good message because they were so sinful and He wanted them to repent. But Jonah didn't want to because he despised them so much for their evil ways. But, after being swallowed by the fish and repenting for running away from what God called him to do, Jonah went and shared the message. The Ninevites repented from their sin and God saved them from the consequences of their sinful ways. This compassionate intolerance from the Lord made Jonah angry. All Jonah saw was that the Ninevites were very sinful people. What he wanted for them was justice for their actions not mercy or compassion. 
(Imagine it like this- Could you give mercy to and have compassion on [who many see as] the most vile of our culture like the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, or would you only want justice? Learn more about how Dahmer became a Christian here.) 
But, as Jonah said, God is gracious, compassionate, slow to get angry, abounding in love and patient. Jonah, like us, was vindictive, heartless, impatient, barren of love and wished calamity for sinners. God could see that the Ninevites were so sinful, they couldn't tell their right from their left. They needed what only He can offer. It was their only hope to be saved from the consequences of their sin, death. 

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We like to think that the stories of the world depicted in the bible is so far off but it is not. It is the same sinful place that we live in. God has put us here and desires that we would be concerned with what He is. That we would have compassionate intolerance and save the lost and sinful from the evil one. 

John 17:15 - My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 

We live in a world, not too unlike Ninevah, that likes gray areas. It is too uncomfortable to stand up and say that things are black and white, right and wrong. But, if we say we are Christ followers, that we desire to follow His example, and that we are concerned with what He is concerned with, than we have to be willing to speak up against what is wrong no matter how uncomfortable. We have become too accepting, too tolerant of the grayness. We have become numb to all the poor choices we are making. We need to love each other enough to save each other from the 'wages of sin'. To God, there are no gray areas like we like to live in. There is no scale of bad sins to worst sins. For God, it is just repentant or not. And, no matter how far off we run in our sinfulness, away from Him, He is still within reach. Even when we are feeling swallowed up (like Jonah) by sin and that there is no light left, God can still hear our prayers, our cries out in repentance. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Think about God's qualities and Jonah's. Where are you, on a scale of 1 to 10, in God's qualities compared to Jonah's? Where or with who is God calling you to show compassionate intolerance before they face the calamity of their own choices? 

*This is a write up of my notes on the Sunday morning sermon at my church, Summit View Church.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said Erika. I just had a discussion this morning on the very same topic. Our world seems to enjoy living in a world made up of shades of gray. When we stand for God's word, we're labeled as intolerant, even when it's done in love and compassion. The important thing is that we do stand firm on His word, while also showing others that it's never to late to take the gift that He is offering to each one of us.