“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Matthew 5:43-44
Jonah was called by God to preach a message of repentance to a city of Gentiles. Although these people were Israel’s enemies and were known to be brutal, it wasn’t fear of them that caused Jonah to flee. He knew that if he preached to the Ninevites, they might repent of their wickedness, and God would mercifully withhold judgment. He didn’t want God to give them grace; he wanted them to be judged!
With all the divisions that exist in our culture today, we often have wrong expectations of what people are like or what we think they deserve. Like Jonah, we don’t want God to bless those who are opposed to us. But if we want to avoid a “belly of the fish” experience ourselves, we must remember that God’s heart is to show mercy to all people, even our enemies.
How do you view the people around you who are very different from you? When you begin to feel like Jonah did with the Ninevites, don’t flee. Pause and pray, knowing the boundless grace God has shown you. You may be His instrument to show that grace to those who need Him most.
Rather than fleeing God’s call to reach a lost world, face the world with His love.