Matthew R. Perry

You Belong to the City, Don’t You? (Part IV: Are We Ready to See God’s Judgment on the City?)

In Culture, Missions on June 23, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Too often, our prejudices get in the way of our compassion in Christ. Jonah was in the same spot, wasn’t he? Look at Jonah 3:10

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

What was Jonah’s reaction? Jonah 4:1-3 says:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. [2] And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. [3] Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Do we have people in our personal lives or people with different belief systems where we would rather die than see God have mercy on them? Are there people on earth, dear Christians, with whom you wish to see God send his unrelenting justice?

Remember when I mentioned Randy Newman’s shock to man who requested prayer for Al Qaeda? Newman serves with Campus Crusade for Christ and has for more than twenty years. He’s a tremendous man of God with a passion to see college students come to Christ. But here was his honest reaction to this prayer request:

Pray for the members of Al-Qaeda? I don’t think so! Knowing God, he’ll be “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and bounding in loving-kindness, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). Then what? He’ll answer our prayers and those so-and-so’s will get off the hook!

Newman quickly repented and found the need to pray for himself!

Jonah went out to sulk. And isn’t that the point? He went out of the city and gave up on the city and said, “Let God do to that city what he will — they are vile!”

Have you considered that Jesus never did this? I remember that time in John 11 when he set his face to Jerusalem, the center of Israel’s religion and culture (which at that time were inseparable). He knew that he had to return there. There the corrupt court system would try him, the cowardly Pontius Pilate would turn him over to the city rabble who would then turn him over to execution.

Yet Christ went to the city out of love! He loves those whom he created in His image. Jonah loved his plant and had compassion on it — and his heart broke over his plant. Do our hearts brake more over material possessions, traditions, lifestyles, than over the people whom God created?

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

God is — and so should we. We should have more compassion for those made in God’s image than for those things which bring us material comfort.

Here in Lexington, we have our city council, we have UK, Bluegrass Community College, we have EKU down the road, we have a number of businesses, financial institutions, horse industries, and many other businesses which not only have our future leaders, but also train our future leaders. It’s been said that ministering in rural sections, you’ll win the lawyer — but ministering in the cities, you can win the law practices. In rural areas, we minister to the doctor and win him — but in ministering in the cities, we can win the medical profession. Same with finances, race relations, and numerous others.

If we delude ourselves to thinking that Jesus is only good for us in the spiritual realm, and think that John 10:10 only means eternal life in heaven and not the fact that the Gospel transforms all of our thinking and living — we are missing the great understanding of being salt and light in our community and our world.

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