September 07, 2015

Loving the Alien

Jonah 3:3-4:3

God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

—  1 Corinthians 12:18

At my church, Pastor Art asked this question in a sermon about Jonah: “Whom is God calling you to love that you don’t want to love?” Jonah’s answer would have been “the people of Nineveh.” They were residents of Assyria, which had ruthlessly conquered Israel. They were the enemy. No wonder Jonah didn’t want to call them to repentance! He did not want God to show them mercy. He wanted God to roast them alive. But obediently Jonah preached to them, and they repented. God forgave. And Jonah moped!

In Some of My Best Friends Are Black, Tanner Colby describes the day Wallace Belson, a black man, decided to attend a white church in Louisiana. Several men from that church beat him when he entered. Years later, that church merged with a black church attended by Wallace Belson, Jr. He hated those people who had beaten his father. He wanted no part of the merger.

One day, Belson, Jr., fell from a ladder and nearly died. When his life was spared, he changed, and he began worshiping with the merged church: “Well, God didn’t take me, so I made a promise to try and get along with everybody and just leave everything behind. So I did. I changed, completely, away from that [old hatred].”

Whom is God calling you to love that you don’t want to love?

Reconciling God, I don’t like some people. In fact, there are whole groups of people I do not wish well. Forgive me. Teach me to love as your Son loves me. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

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