Is God too compassionate?
Have you ever thought of God as being too compassionate? It seems that one man did, his name was Jonah. I’ve spent time in this book over the last 3 weeks and came across something I never realized before. (Discovery is one reason why reading the Bible is so exciting) Jonah was angry at God! Now this might not be something groundbreaking and new but I always thought that Jonah was angry at the situation, or angry at the Ninevites for getting saved! But he was in fact angry at God. Why? Because in Jonah’s mind, God was too compassionate. Listen to his response to God after the revival in Nineveh…”O LORD, is not this what I said when I was in my own 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”. Jonah accuses God for being gracious, merciful, patient and loving, the very things that ought to ignite praise, enrages the prophet.
Well we all have a little bit of Jonah in us don’t we? No actually I think we have a lot of Jonah in us. We love to talk about “those people”. We especially love to talk about “those people” when we are around “our people”. Often we care more about our comforts (Read Jonah 4:9) than we do for people. We often regard some as beyond saving; “This radical extremist ought to burn in Hell!” “All atheists are foolish and idiotic!” “This racist is a swine and must go back to where he came from!”. We love to take moral and social high ground and play cards of race, status, religion and our very hypocritical view of justice. We quickly forget, just like Jonah that without God’s great deliverance we will be no different. So how about it Christian, can we pray for God to bless our enemies? Jonah tells us that God has a concern for all people, including racists, extremists, murderers, thieves, alcoholics…(Insert whatever else you like)
The book of Jonah displays God’s enormous compassion for all nations, yes even for a sinner like me…like you. I need to constantly repent of my Jonah attitude and love people no matter who they are. I need to repent of my attempt to harness God’s compassion for myself (as if anyone really can). And especially remember that God is moving those who love Jesus toward a new kingdom that will include people from every nation, language, people and tribe. Nobody is beyond God’s hand of rescue.
Our God is a missionary God! He has a heart for the nations! Maybe he is too compassionate but o how I need every drop of it!