Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jonah: God Loves Everyone

Does God love everyone? We probably would be quick to say yes. But isn't this question more complicated than simple? What about those that have wounded us deeply? Does God love them? And if the answer is yes... do I have to love them?

We enter into  Jonah's  complicated faith struggle. An Israelite was confident of God's love. They called it hesed. Hesed is a fundamental attribute of God. God's love is steadfast, merciful, compassionate, graceful, never failing. Hesed is grounded in covenant and action. Even when Israel broke their side of the covenant God's love persisted.

Now the tension lies on how far this love extends. The Israelite people were God's chosen people. Hesed would surely cover them but what about those who were not God's chosen. Most Israelites believed that God's hesed didn't extend outside the bounds of God's chosen. And most definitely not to their enemies.

This limited view of God's hesed is broken in the book of Jonah. Jonah cannot except this generous attribute of God's love. He cannot except the love of God extending to the very people that wounded Israel so deeply.

The book of Jonah ends with a question from God. "Jonah should I not be concerned about the Ninevites...?"

Jonah encounters a radical God who love's others.

God loves those that have wounded us dearly. It is out of the abundance of this love that we care deeply about our neighbors and communities. This love  propels us as a church to be in ministry and mission to the world. And the person that God is calling to carry this love is none other you and I.