Don’t shoot the messenger

We all have people in our lives that we’d rather not have in our lives. An annoying coworker. A nosy neighbour. That weird uncle that only shows up at holidays. We avoid these people at all costs and even begrudge them when something good happens in their lives. We hold on to our dislike—hate even—like a security blanket. So long as that person keeps doing the things we dislike, we can grip our sense of superiority over them.

Jonah experienced a similar feeling when God brought him to a certain city in a rather roundabout way. Jonah finally made it to the city of Nineveh by way of fish. It probably wasn’t the most popular mode of transportation in his day, but it did the trick. Jonah was finally where God told him to be—surrounded by people he didn’t like. Not only did he have to be there, he had to share a certain message.

On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”

Jonah 3:4 (NLT)

Still believing himself to be above the people in the city, Jonah shared his message with a great sense of satisfaction and then found a prime spot to watch the promised destruction. Yet that destruction would never come. Because, in spite of his hatred for the people of Nineveh, they had received and embraced his message.

The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they decided to go without food and wear sackcloth to show their sorrow.

Jonah 3:5 (NLT)

I doubt this was the response Jonah was expecting. In a city he hated, Jonah was forced to watch as his reluctant message was acted upon. Repentance ran rampant.

What all the saints make a matter of joy and praise, Jonah makes the subject of reflection upon God; as if showing mercy were an imperfection of the Divine nature, which is the greatest glory of it.

Matthew Henry

The account of Jonah is not merely a story of delayed obedience. It is a story of attitude, of mercy, of grace. And it is an account that show us that, even if our attitudes do not reflect our message, God can still work in the hearts of even the greatest sinners. But, unlike Jonah, when our message is received, our hearts should rejoice along with those who have received the gift of grace.

It is the neighbour we like the least that needs the most love. Hesitation on our part to share the Gospel is like shooting the messenger before he even has a chance to tell his story. We do ourselves and our neighbour a disservice by holding on to our hatred and dislike. We want to show our superiority while God wants to show His grace.

Immediate obedience to God’s instruction is far easier on our egos than waiting until the last possible moment.  Let us share in the glory of God’s grace rather than hoarding our own personal comfort.

Daily Bible reading: Jonah 1-4, Revelation 9

Do it again

Yesterday, we discussed knowing Jesus’ voice. That, even if we don’t recognise him in appearance, we should know his voice and trust in it.

But what if we don’t recognise him or his voice?

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

John 21:4 (ESV)

Here were men who had just spent the better part of three years with a man and, even though he was only a hundred yards off, they did not recognise him.

Then the man on the shore tells the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – this after they’d been fishing all night and caught nothing. Does this sound familiar? A strangely similar situation happened back in Luke 5 when Jesus first called his disciples to follow him. Now here he is again telling them to cast their nets one last time. And, as with the first time, the nets came up full of fish.

When the disciples experienced something at the command of Jesus that they’d already seen before, they recognised him for who he was.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

John 21:7a (ESV)

So if you don’t recognise Jesus by his appearance or by his voice, at least know him for his works.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NCV)

If Jesus is the same, don’t you think we’ll see the same things happen again and again? Are not sick still being healed? Blind being made to see? Lame being made to walk? Dead made to live? All of the things Jesus did in the Gospels are still happening today. We can still see his fingerprints on the miraculous.

So if you’re not in a place where you can see his face. If you can’t hear his voice, look for the things he’s doing. If you look for him, you will find him.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 6-8; John 21