The Jonah Complex

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, February 10, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? ~Romans 2:3-4

We always like to see the bad guy get theirs. When they don’t, we get very disappointed and almost blood thirsty. I used to watch big time wrestling and that was one of the tactics they commonly used to draw an audience. They would have one character who was despicable; he would insult the audience, hate our country, and cheat, cheat, and cheat some more. You would always think that the good guy would come and give him a good whoopin’ but sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes the good guy fell victim to the bad guy’s tactics.

A more recent example would be the disappointment many suffered this recently with the Super Bowl. The quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson: pure of heart, humble, charitable, and a Christian to boot, versus the quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady: scandalous, playboyish, cocky, and possibly even a cheater. Right when it seemed like the Seahawks had the game in the bag, a series of strange events occurred to secure a victory for Tom Brady and the Patriots. I’m sure many were furious that such an injustice happened.

But wait, injustice? Why do we see such a thing like this as injustice? Probably because we have the same attitude toward our enemies that the prophet Jonah had. Jonah attempted to avoid preaching to the Ninevites because they were his enemies. Furthermore, he knew that if they did not repent of their ways, they would be judged by God and wiped from the face of the earth. What awesome justice that would be for an evil nation that had oppressed your people to face not just justice, but God’s wrath! But then God convinced Jonah to deliver his message to them and they repented. Jonah’s response was, pathetic. “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:2-3). Jonah had a bad attitude, and you wonder how he could say such an awful thing after God had just delivered the Ninevites from his wrath. But how often do we also wish judgment upon our enemies?

I can think back to several instances when I wanted God to act swiftly against violent men. 9/11/2001, the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Boston marathon bombers, and even more recently there was a divide over a shooting in Missouri in which some felt that the family of a shooting victim deserved justice for their son while others felt that the police officer who shot him was in the right. The opening verses of Romans 2 are trying to tell us something.

Who are we to judge against those who do not know the LORD? It is okay for us to feel grieved and mortified at the occurrence of evil, and we should even desire justice. But God alone is the judge, and often we do not possess enough details in any given instance to fully understand how an event truly went down. Even if we did, should we not still desire the repentance of the wicked?

Paul in Romans 2 and Jonah both acknowledged God’s kindness. God himself, THE JUDGE, did not want to pass judgment on Nineveh and later on in Romans we will see that he does not want to exact his vengeance upon anyone. As our Heavenly Father, he wants to extend mercy to the offender in hopes that he or she will respond in repentance. For us to desire anything less than what God wants for all people is sinful.

I have taken an extreme route in unpacking this passage but there is another element to it that I want to comment on quickly. It says that we are guilty of the same sins. I don’t think this means that we are actively sinning in the same ways as those we judge; rather, Paul is reminding us that we are guilty of the same sins regardless. The New Testament sets a high standard when it comes to godly living to the extent where you might not be physically involved in an act of adultery, but by looking upon another person with lust you have committed adultery. We all fall short of God’s glory and are all in need of God’s mercy.

So, hats off to you Tom Brady. Enjoy your ill-gotten victory over Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair. The godly will have their day and we need to forgive and pray for our enemies that they too may understand the richness of God’s mercy. His love is incredible; so incredible that if the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center would have repented and followed Jesus, he would have bestowed his grace upon them as well.