Monday, August 10, 2009

God Relents - Jonah 3-4

Once again, this Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at Chesterbrook Taiwanese Presbyterian and finish out the book of Jonah. It was a joy to meditate on God's compassion for the lost, even while exhorting the church in their evangelism and missions. From my introduction:
God loves everybody. That’s a popular sentiment these days. Most people would affirm that statement. Find a random person on the street and ask them, does “God love everybody?” and if that person believes in God, then the answer you’ll likely hear is, “Yes, of course, God loves everybody.” And we would agree with that.

But what do people mean when they say that God loves everybody? Do they understand that God’s love to be the sovereign care of a personal Creator, who knows us and desires a relationship with us and cares about how we live? Or would it be more of an impersonal, benevolent spiritual force, that supports us no matter what we do?

Living in a self-consumed culture such as ours, when people affirm that God loves everybody, I wonder who “everybody” includes. Most definitely, “everybody” includes the person in question. And that’s usually about as far as people think it through. But I’d love to ask a few questions: Does everybody include only people who are like you, who think the way you think, and live the way you live?

Or does God also love those who strongly disagree with you? Those who annoy you every time you see them? Those whom you find unlovely and repulsive? Even those whom you hate? Does God personally love them even as much as He loves you? If so, what does that say about God? Does that lessen your appreciation for His love?
Listen to the sermon here.