Wednesday, 16 July 2008
In Sunday School growing up, I had always been told that Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh to minister to the people there. Not true! Jonah didn't think the Ninevites were worth the saving grace of Yahweh. I didn't think I could be like Jonah until I met my neighbor across the hall....
This man complains about everything to everyone, gets into fights with the other neighbors and calls the police on them or the bar far down the road for noise. His apartment sometimes smells like vomit, he hit and dented my new car-door with his, he always yells at his pet birds, he sweeps the dirt and debris from between our doors onto my mat and he smokes pot. If I put a bag of garbage on my door-step, he'll toss it down the stairs. The man actually cut down a bunch of sapling trees in the woods right outside my window and he knocked a robin's nest out of a tree this spring (no eggs, at least...he isn't a killer).
I know about Jesus' love for us and how we should spread that around, but I really wanted to avoid my neighbor on this front. He was so angry and bitter that I believed only God could help him....but I didn't want to be the one to "witness". If Jesus wanted my neighbor saved, he could do it on his own.
For the past few months, whenever I paid my tithe to one church or another, my neighbor's name and the idea of giving him the money instead would ring in my mind. Of all the people to give money to...him? He's mean! So the thought couldn't have been Jesus! I was arguing with God about it...or trying to discern if it was really him who was dropping the thought into my head.
"God, he's not worth saving!" As soon as I thought that, a heavy conviction and grieving struck my spirit. How dare I, also a person not worth saving though was saved anyway, think such a thing about another human?!
So [Jonah] complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people." Jonah 4:2, NLT
Call me Jonah, because I did do what God asked me to, and with surprising results. I'll share tomorrow what happened, but know my impressions of my neighbor changed completely, and for a moment this afternoon, I saw him as Jesus does.....
To be continued....
Do you ever catch yourself thinking like Jonah - that some people just aren't worth the effort? Has God ever moved you to reach out to someone who seemed beyond help?