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    The Scandal of Mercy

    September 4, 2019 Aaron Yoder

    Who can receive the mercy of God?  Is there a particular demographic of people from which God withholds his mercy?  Now these may seem like ridiculous questions for those who know the Scriptures.  I assume that if you are a Christian, you are probably familiar with Romans 10:13 which says, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  We know that ‘everyone’ means everyone - people from every social status, ethnicity, culture, and language – both young and old, rich and poor.

    But how about your enemies?  Could God really show mercy toward those who rub you the wrong way – or are actively hostile towards you?

    Perhaps you remember that Jonah, the prophet after Elisha, was sent by God to the Assyrian metropolis of Nineveh.  While there, he was supposed to proclaim a message of judgement.  Divine destruction was coming to the city.  But not immediately.  The message included a space of 40 days for people to repent.  This greatly angered Jonah.  These were violent, immoral people!  They were enemies of God!  Their king even sought to take over parts of Israel, including Damascus.  Surely they were beyond God’s mercy.  That’s why Jonah ran away from this mission field to begin with!

    Finally Jonah opened his mouth and preached the message.  To Jonah’s surprise and great disdain, the Ninevites believed God!  The city was overcome with a wave of repentant revival – from the lowest servant up to the very king himself.  City life stood still as fasting, mourning and fervent prayer to the Living God happened everywhere.  Can you imagine tens of thousands of people suddenly crying out to God for the first time in their life?  If such a thing happened today, I would hope that God’s people would stand amazed at the power of God’s supernatural mercy.

    It’s easy to want revival in happen in every place…except in the hearts of our enemies.  When we are threatened or harshly mistreated by others, we can easily act like Jonah and throw a fit if and when God shows them steadfast love and mercy.  Especially if he asks us to carry that message to them!

    We cannot forget that none of us deserve God’s mercy. The book of Romans tells us that no one who is righteous, no one even one.  Everyone is an enemy of God and the wages of sin is death.  But that’s why Jesus came.  He came to reconcile hostile people with God through faith in His son.

    Would you pray and ask God to help you see your enemies as God sees them?  Pray for them, even if they persecute you.  Rejoice, even if they revile you.  And if they come to receive God’s incredible gift of mercy, be the first to welcome them into the abundant and steadfast love of God – which is for everyone.

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