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Blinded By Hate
by Greg McCowen

Have you ever judged someone by past experience? Have you ever wanted to see someone pay for that experience? Jonah was such a person. You see, Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh to warn of impending judgement by GOD. He was to warn them that they would be destroyed unless they repented for their sins. Pretty simple message...turn or burn. However, Jonah had a preconceived prejudice towards that group of people. As a matter of fact, he had a death wish for them. He wanted them to be destroyed. So, instead of warn them, he decided to go on a trip far away from Nineveh. Funny thing about taking trips that are motivated by anger, bitterness, and hate...they usually end with our own misery. In Jonah's case it was no different! As you probably know, his disobedience to God resulted in a stormy experience that cost his sailing mates their precious cargo. It also resulted in a three day tour inside a "great fish" that ultimately brought Jonah to his knees in penitent prayer! Soon afterwards he was extracting himself from fish vomit and heading toward Nineveh! Understand this...he was going there under duress. He still wanted God to destroy the people of Nineveh! His heart was not in line with God's heart!

Briefly consider your own bouts with pride and prejudice. Is there anyone you know, or any group of people for that matter, that you have ought against? Is there a root of bitterness inside your heart? A good litmus test for this condition is called anger reflection. Does a certain person, race, religion, gender, or other make you angry for no other reason than a past experience with the same? If so, you probably are having a form of the Jonah Syndrome. You know...a condition that causes you to act irrationally toward others when the Lord Jesus Himself is asking you to love them unconditionally. It is an understandable condition. Unfortunately, it is not an acceptable one in God's sight...and trust me, He sees everything!

Jonah went throughout the streets of Nineveh sounding the alarm. I'm sure he wasn't smiling! But he did accomplish the task. The king of Nineveh decreed that the whole city repent. They did! With sackcloth and ashes! Now it is interesting how Jonah responded. He didn't rejoice! He wasn't glad they had turned to God! No! In fact it made him mad! He wanted to die! He even implored God to take his life! Strange how Jonah was so in tune with judgment and yet so out of touch with mercy and forgiveness! He went out on a hill outside of town, hoping against hope that God would destroy them anyway! Why?! Because he couldn't get over himself! He could not relinquish his own judgement of the people God chose to save! Therefore, in selfish resentment of their new found grace, Jonah sat fuming...hoping for a reversal of that grace!

In the meantime, God caused a plant to grow up over Jonah "to deliver him from his misery". It shielded him from the intense heat of the sun. Jonah enjoyed the plant. He received the blessing God so easily provided! He relished the shade and remained on the hill to see what would become of the city. God sent a worm that devoured the plant. God sent a "vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he grew faint". Jonah became even more angry about the situation! His anger about the plant being eaten was off the charts! He passed judgement upon himself! For the second time in as many days,  "He said, It is better for me to die than to live." God inquired of Jonah. "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" In other words, you didn't create the plant, it was there because of Me. I can do as I wish with the plant, and you for that matter. Jonah replied, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!"

God chided Jonah for his anger. He tried to help Jonah understand that He had made the plant and He had created the people of Nineveh as well. He wanted Jonah to realize how absurd it was to be so angry about the death of a simple plant, while eagerly wishing for the demise of more than a hundred and twenty thousand people. God's infinite wisdom is beautifully displayed in this story! It is as obvious as the sweet shade of refuge and the vehement east wind! God is sovereign! He can save and restore anyone at anytime. He doesn't have to receive your approval. God's love goes beyond our prejudice. It goes beyond our sense of pride! God's love can cover a multitude of sins. It can restore the most hopeless person on the planet. Yet apparently, we can experience God's BEST in regard to forgiveness and restoration (i.e. - Jonah), and still miss the point of that love by allowing past hurts and un-forgiveness to blind us spiritually! Wow! Jonah couldn't see past his bias! Even when God was spelling it out for him, he just didn't get it...or receive it...whichever the case may be.

What about us? Do we have a Jonah Syndrome Disorder? Are we supposed Christ followers who harshly judge, discriminate against, and inevitably hate others?! Are there people in this world that God created, who are not worthy of the forgiveness of Christ Jesus? Are we better than others who are obviously in sin, if secretly we hate the same? Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. He didn't wait for us to get cleaned up before He saved us! Jesus offered both thieves the same mercy and grace on the cross! The fact that one believed and the other didn't isn't the only point. The point is, Jesus isn't a respecter of persons. He doesn't determine your fate. You do! He merely offers the same perfect love to anyone who will receive it! Do we offer the love of Jesus to everyone in that manner? Or, do we only parcel it out to those we deem worthy? If we are sinful people, we are worthy of God's grace. Why you might ask? Because Jesus shed His blood on Calvary for the same. Jesus came to earth so "that all might have life, and have it more abundantly"! The word "all" is the point! Jesus would have forgiven both thieves on the cross! He was dying so that both of them might live! But only one received the gift of eternal life. God didn't ask Jonah to determine the worthiness of the people of Nineveh. He asked Jonah to go and warn them of the consequences of continuing in their sin. God doesn't ask you or me to determine the worthiness of others to receive His love. He asks us to "go and preach the gospel to every creature (person)". Will we? Will we ask the Lord to remove our spiritual blinders? Will we look past the past to see what God can do today, and in the future? I pray we will! Until next time, be blessed with God's BEST!

Your Partner In Ministry,

Greg McCowen

 

 

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