Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious. He prayed to the Lord, “please, Lord isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love and one who resents from sending disaster. ~Jonah 4:1-2
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles (non-believers) do the same? ~Matthew 5:46-47
Then the I heard the voice of the Lord asking: “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” I said: “Here I am. Send me.” And He replied, “Go!” ~Isaiah 6:8-9 (paraphrase)
A few months ago it occurred to me that there will be people IN Heaven that I didn’t like here on Earth. So how did they get there? Someone went to them, shared the Good News and discipled them. So shouldn’t I be one who goes too?
One of the things I love most about the Bible is its honesty. If I was to create a salvation and redemption story to convince the world to turn from their sin, I would not have included the ugly, embarrassing, disagreeable, and disobedient parts. I would have left out the reason, the disobedience, that leads Jonah to be swallowed by the great fish. I would have denied Saul’s terrorism. I would have hidden David’s adultery and murder. And I would have white-washed Peter’s racism and cowardice when not taking a stand toward his friends who held a popular, albeit wrong view.
But the Bible doesn’t hide these stories. God shares them with us as instructions and examples of His goodness and redemption. He knows that we fall short (Romans 3:23). He gave us free will, and He knows we will misuse it to judge and hurt others at best, and at worst to thwart His loving and redeeming work. This is what I have to remind myself. I am a Kingdom Man. I am created by God to bear His image. I am Commissioned by Christ. And sometimes that’s hard. It’s hard when ties with good friends and close family have unraveled because we’ve let politics divide us. It’s hard when pastors and churches I once admired demonstrate the Gospel by harping more on what they think God hates, then who and what He loves. It’s hard when there is a debate on whether or not it’s ok to say “Black Lives Matter” without hearing an immediate rebuttal. It’s hard when people attack law enforcement officers dutifully doing their job, whether that’s a traffic stop or standing their post protecting the US Capitol. It’s hard when family members believe social media or cable news pundits over my lived experiences. It’s hard when the only “choice” is between no restrictions and no exceptions. It’s hard when I shy away from conversations with friends because I’m afraid to find out how they might think. It’s hard when people who know better stay in silence to remain “comfortable”. It’s hard when my self-righteousness exceeds my view of someone else’s value. It’s just hard.
But These are the times in which we live. These are the times that we’re called into. And in times like these it’s easy to determine who we don’t like. It’s easy to identify who we don’t think is worthy. And yet we (I) have to take the message because God demands it.
Daily Battle Order:
What’s your attitude?
Do you have hard work to do like me to have an attitude of Isaiah “Send Me” instead of Jonah. Will you do the work with me? Begin to build the bridge today. Take God’s love GO with you. Make a gesture to the person you don’t like; I know they already came to mind. God may be trying to use you to redeem them and make you a better reflection of Him.