Dear Presby Family: Intervention Misinterpreted

“And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” - Jonah 4:11

Though Nineveh was a great city, its people had wandered far from God. Jonah didn’t care much about that, though, because Nineveh’s people were enemies of his own people. Still, God was concerned about Nineveh’s people. So he sent Jonah to teach about him, and they “turned from their evil ways” (Jonah 3:10).

Contrast that many years later with another great city of God’s people - Jerusalem. That city had wandered as well; and as Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” (Luke 19:41-42). Jerusalem’s leaders had rejected many of God’s prophets, and they soon would reject Jesus as the Son of God who could bring them peace with God.

Jonah missed out on the heart of God. Jerusalem missed out on the heart of God. We miss out on the heart of God. For Jonah, Nineveh was full of “those people.” Immoral, sinful, rebellious people—people who certainly didn’t deserve God’s grace. Jerusalem did not deserve it, either. And neither do we.

But that’s the odd thing about grace. By its very definition, grace is for undeserving people. Grace is compassion for people who don’t deserve mercy. The Ninivites didn’t deserve it. The people of Jerusalem didn’t deserve it. And we don’t deserve it.

As we come to the conclusion of Jonah, God asks the question, “Should I not have concern for the great city…?” This is a question for all of us. We all know some of “those people”—people who have made a mess of their lives, people who don’t deserve God’s love. Just like us. Should we not be concerned about them?

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Aaron

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