Yesterday, our pastor, Brian Bill, bravely attacked a sometimes confusing and much debated issue of predestination. I thought you would benefit from reading it http://www.pontiacbible.org/index.php?/sermons/more/making_sense_of_predestination/
As I was driving down the road, I saw a raccoon coming up out of the ditch and preparing to cross in front of me. I noticed that as he ran across the road, he didn't look at anything around him, like my car coming right at him, but looking straight ahead, staying completely focused on what he was doing and where he was heading. It hit me at that very moment, I can be so much like that raccoon - not thinking of anything else but myself. Not concerning myself with other people and how they feel or what they need, but keeping my focus on what I'm doing and where I'm going.
I was reminded of this as I read Jonah 4. We talked last week about how God had made good out of Jonah's mistake and you would think that he would have been happy about it - but it's just not what Jonah wanted.
When Jonah saw that the people of Nineveh had repented, he became angry with God and threw himself into a pity party telling God "Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life."
As a Jew, Jonah was still against bringing salvation to the Gentiles. He didn't feel that the Ninevites deserved God's grace. How many times do we choose who we tell about Jesus? Isn't it easier to tell those who are like us or those we are comfortable with. When we choose who "deserves" to hear the Good News, we are forgetting our call from God just like Jonah. Guess what - you and I don't deserve salvation, either!!!
Then, Jonah goes out of the city, builds a shelter and sits (I would guess, pouting). God causes a plant to grow up and give Jonah comforting shade from the heat but overnight a worm attacks the plant and it dies. God causes a scorching wind and the sun beating down on Jonah makes him feel faint and miserable. He again, asks God to take his life.
My initial thought was "what a crybaby! he needs to get over himself" - that was until I thought about how many pity parties I have sat in over much less. Ouch!
Listen to God's response to Jonah. It sure put me in my place. "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more that 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals."
My Bible commentary says this: Jonah was angry at the withering of the the plant, but not over what could have happened to Nineveh. Most of us have cried at the death of a pet or when an object with sentimental value was broken, but have we cried over the fact that a friend does not know God? How easy it is to be more sensitive to our own interests than to the spiritual needs of people around us.
Have a great day