Grace. Unmerited favor. When we are blessed with good things that we don’t deserve, we call it grace. We sing about it in church. Possibly the most popular hymn of all time is ‘Amazing Grace.’ We welcome God’s grace into our own lives, but what do we do when God extends His grace where we don’t necessarily want to see it go?
This morning, I read through Jonah as part of my Bible reading. We all know about Jonah and the great fish (whale). Do we continue reading after Jonah is spit up onto dry land? Let me give a quick paraphrase. Jonah takes God’s warning to the people of Ninevah and then he gets himself a front row seat to watch the destruction. However, Ninevah repents and God spares the city. What does Jonah do? He throws a tantrum and claims that he didn’t want to go to Ninevah to start with because he knew that God would relent his punishment. What?? He didn’t think Ninevah deserved God’s grace. Now before we start beating Jonah over the head, let’s put a modern spin on Jonah’s adventure.
What would you say if God told you to go and warn the leaders of ISIS that He was going to destroy them in forty days. Would we willingly go? Most of you are probably saying something like, ‘That’s a suicide mission. We’ve seen the videos of what these people do to Christians.’ Well, the reality is that in Jonah’s mind, a trek into Ninevah was the same kind of mission. He fully expected to deliver God’s message and be met with hostility, violence, and death. To borrow from our friends the Veggie Tales, he was expecting ‘The Slap of No Return.’
I’m sure that Jonah was elated to be able to deliver God’s message and walk out of the city alive. To celebrate he found a view overlooking the city and waited to watch God’s fireworks of wrath pour out. As we’ve already talked about, that didn’t happen. Ninevah repented, God relented, and Jonah sulked.
Now let’s go back to the ISIS analogy. What if you did get that call from God and you obeyed? What if ISIS repented and converted? What if God held back His judgement because of their repentance? How would you react? Would you rejoice that more of your fellow man had meet Jesus? Would you welcome these former terrorists into the body of Christ with open arms? Not so easy is it?
That’s what is so amazing (no pun intended) about God’s grace. What is not deserved is lavished on those of us who do not deserve it. We as humans do not have the luxury of deciding who gets God’s grace and it’s probably good for all of us that we don’t. Chances are there is at least someone in all of our lives that doesn’t think we should be the recipients of God’s grace. But therein lies the thing about grace…..if we deserved or earned it, it wouldn’t be grace.
Consequently, we should all take comfort in knowing that we serve a God who gives second chances. In keeping with the Veggie Tales theme, let’s enjoy this song.