I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (Jonah 4:2-3).
Sometimes I wonder what went through Jonah's mind when God told him to warn the Ninevites of impending judgment. The reluctant prophet had good reason to hate them. Their army had ravaged Israel, perhaps even killing his family and friends. As Jonah headed in the opposite direction, I imagine he thought what I would probably would have thought, "Let them die. All of them."
And sometimes I think if we are not careful we might be more like Jonah than we like to believe.
What do we think of radical Muslims, especially in the aftermath of September 11, 2001? What do we think of them as we watch the continuing bloodbath at their hands since then? Do we spit, “Let them die. All of them”?
But what should be our Christian response?
Intuitively, we know the answer. But intuition is not the same as doing.
As I've thought about this question from time to time since 9-11, I've wondered how many Sauls God would convert to Apostle Pauls -- if Christians prayed? How many disciples of hate would become missionaries of love -- if Christians prayed? And I still ask myself, if God loved the world so much that He gave, can we -- can I -- not do so little as pray, even for our enemies?
I confess, I have a very, very difficult time with this question, for though I know what should be my response, I find myself often unwilling to do so little as pray for them. Or when I do pray, I do it grudgingly, out of a sense of guilt for being like Jonah
And then I think of the Lord's warning: But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:15).
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize living the life of Christ is not an easy thing.