That was what the Mr. called it.
I was waxing eloquent about a new concept I had just discovered, heretofore unknown to the minds of men. It consisted of the desire of “good” people to see “bad” people punished. Sure, we want them to find Christ and be saved from hell (most of the time) but justice would seem to require a little earthly bamboo under the fingernails for all the trouble they’ve caused.
I asked the Mr. if he had ever considered such a thing. Had he ever, in his finite mind, realized that such a phenomena existed?
Apparently there is indeed nothing new under the sun. Rats.
Anyway, here’s how it goes. We want to evangelize the unsaved but we have a hard time letting them get away with their sin. We feel a little better about the whole affair if we can see some damage to their lives. Then we are willing to swoop in wearing our SuperChristian capes and by pointing out how messed up they are, we lovingly point them toward the cross and the opportunity to be like us. Uh, I mean like Jesus.
Case in point; prison ministry. Nary a Christian exists who doesn’t support the concept of prison ministry. And yet, many of our folk will turn their noses up at the free and unsaved. Why? Because the guy in prison is paying for his crime. We like that. Paying for crimes. As long as you’re sitting in a cell, we’ll come with great love and compassion to bring you the gospel. Likewise if you’re in Africa living in ignorance of the Word. We’ll come there too and share the love of God.
But the cousin with the foul mouth, living with boy/girlfriend. Making babies all over the place. Not holding down a job. Drinking, partying. The one who borrows money and never pays it back. The one who always excuses their own poor choices or blames somebody else. The downright unlikeable. Those are the ones I have a harder time with. So let me just be plain; if I don’t like you, I have a harder time wanting salvation minus punishment for you.
I’d feel better about them being granted grace if I saw them paying a little fine for their spiritual infractions. It’s the unmerited mercy that really grinds me.
Read the book of Jonah if you’ve not done so. It’s a short easy read. It’s the story of the every-Christian if you ask me. Even if I didn’t invent it.
Jonah is a man of God. God tells him to go preach in Nineveh. Jonah feels those stinking Ninevites need a good smiting so he goes in the other direction. God sees him. He gets swallowed by a fish. Gets puked out in the direction of Nineveh. Let me just say that I’m glad God doesn’t deal quite so harshly when I go the other direction from His instructions. Anyway, Jonah goes to Nineveh, preaches, the town turns toward God. They repent. God forgives. And Jonah is TICKED OFF.
“So that’s it? They get off scot free? No hell-fire? No brimstone? No canker sores or bad hair?”
What the heck?!
We love justice, we just don’t want it for ourselves.
So I’m going to try to recover from my own personal Jonah. I’m going to have to pray good and hard about that. I want to have the heart of Christ and I suspect that means I will grieve when people get what they have coming. And I’ll rejoice if I can see them dodging the bullet by way of grace. That’s who I want to be.
Jesus was the ultimate criminal defense attorney.
Lord, please de-Jonah me.
Jonah 4 Jonah's Anger at the Lord 's Compassion
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."
10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"