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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jonah's Prejudice

It gets hot in the Middle East. Jonah was hot, very hot, after God spared Nineveh. His anger was white hot, and he sweltered under the sun’s intense rays. He fumed because God had spared the city. He complained, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish, for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 3:2). He was so angry with God, he asked Him to end his life (v. 3). He reasoned he would be better off dead.

What was going on with Jonah? Why was he so angry and despondent? Apparently his theology was okay. Read his prayer again, and notice he correctly grasped God’s character. God was gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness. What irked Jonah was racial prejudice, that monster that has been ripping the human soul for centuries. He would have been quite happy to see God zap the Gentile Ninevites. He had run from the task of preaching to Nineveh because he didn’t want any part of their rescue.

I have known some people with a good theology but a bad attitude. Have you? They want God to save the lost, but they want to save only a certain kind of lost people. Oh, they don’t specify skin color, economic status, or social status, but their attitudes and actions reveal their prejudice. Their church may be located in a racially diverse neighborhood, but they would rather see their church attendance dwindle and die than do anything that would encourage people from the neighborhood to attend. I have even known some Christians who can quote John 3:16 from memory and donate money to missionary work, but they also use racial slurs.

Jonah was wrong to resent the grace and mercy God had shown to the Ninevites, and every believer today should renounce racial prejudice. Why not read Luke 10:25-37 and James 2:1-10 today?

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