Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.’

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

          Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!


Overcoming Prejudice

January 17, 2017

“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry… ‘Oh Lord, I knew You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.’  …And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:1-4)

As you reflect upon Jonah’s story and apply the central truth in the Book of Jonah, ask yourself if you are prejudiced. To be prejudiced means to ‘pre-judge.’  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. I was introduced to prejudice as a boy growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I heard Italian Americans called ‘daggos’ and Polish Americans called ‘hunkies.’

When I attended a southern college in the late 1940’s, I was shocked to see ‘white’ and ‘colored’ water fountains and to see African Americans sitting in the back of buses.  I was even more bewildered when I discovered that “colored people” were not welcome in “white” churches…

As a new believer I was disillusioned because I heard professing believers use discriminatory labels.  From what I learned while preparing for the ministry, I expected the followers of Christ and our spiritual communities to be free from prejudice. As a believer for more than 60 years and a pastor for more than five decades, I am still alarmed by the deceitful ways of the evil one when I discover prejudice in my own heart and in the lives of other believers…

I have learned, from personal experience, that prejudice feeds on ignorance. I grew up during the Second World War when intense propaganda presented Japanese as sub-human creatures. In my junior year of college in L.A., my roommate was a devout Japanese disciple of Jesus Christ. He was the most Christ-like and disciplined disciple of Jesus I had met at that point in my life. The experience of knowing him completely erased the cumulative impact of all the war propaganda from my mind. Until I met my roommate, I had never met a Japanese person before. My prejudice was fed by my ignorance.

Most prejudice is fed by ignorance.

… Examine your own heart before God and ask yourself if you have prejudice in your heart that is blocking the love God wants to channel through you to lost and hurting people in this world.

Dick Woodward,  Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Jonah: Prejudice vs. God’s Love

September 6, 2016

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice.  As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if we have prejudice in our hearts that is blocking the love God wants to express through us to the hurting people of our world.

The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth you find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.

Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people or people swallowing whales? Refuse to get sidetracked. Come to the book of Jonah looking for truth. When you find that truth, you will find at the heart of this book, and in the heart of this prophet, a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants.  The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation.  When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.  If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s own people are hung up on their prejudices?

Did you observe Jonah did not answer God’s last question? To put the best possible spin on this, I would like to think Jonah’s silence this time was because, when Jonah finally saw the truth of God’s love and compassion for even wicked people, he was humbled to silence.  That is how the profound truth of the pure and unconditional love and grace of God, when it comes to you directly from God, can impact your life.  When your mind and spirit experience a personal revelation of the love and grace of God, which are not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance from us, you will be humbled into a submissive silence.

Dick Woodward,

from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Jonah: God’s mercy vs. prejudice

March 3, 2015

“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry… ‘Oh Lord.. I knew You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.’  …And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:1-4)

As you reflect upon Jonah’s story and apply the central truth in the Book of Jonah, ask yourself if you are prejudiced.  To be ‘prejudiced’ means to ‘pre-judge.’  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. I was introduced to prejudice as a boy growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I heard Italian Americans called ‘daggos’ and Polish Americans called ‘hunkies.’

When I attended a southern college in the late 1940’s, I was shocked to see ‘white’ and ‘colored’ water fountains and to see African Americans sitting in the back of buses.  I was even more bewildered when I discovered that “colored people” were not welcome in “white” churches…

As a new believer I was disillusioned because I heard professing believers use discriminatory labels.  From what I learned while preparing for the ministry, I expected the followers of Christ and our spiritual communities to be free from prejudice.  As a believer now for more than 60 years and a pastor for more than five decades, I am still alarmed by the deceitful ways of the evil one when I discover prejudice in my own heart and in the lives of other believers…

I have learned, from personal experience, that prejudice feeds on ignorance.  I grew up during the Second World War when intense propaganda presented Japanese as sub-human creatures.  In my junior year of college in L.A., my roommate was a devout Japanese disciple of Jesus Christ.  He was the most Christ-like and disciplined disciple of Jesus I had met at that point in my life.  The experience of knowing him completely erased the cumulative impact of all the war propaganda from my mind.  Until I met my roommate, I had never met a Japanese person before.  My prejudice was fed by my ignorance.

Most prejudice is fed by ignorance.

… Examine your own heart before God and ask yourself if you have prejudice in your heart that is blocking the love God wants to channel through you to lost and hurting people in this world.

Dick Woodward,  Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 


Prejudice vs. faithfulness

June 24, 2014

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was.  I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord,’  But God said to me,’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites.  When I was in the city of Nineveh, however,  God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me. Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.’

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah and saying, “I will not?”  When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” …It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet