September 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm #1050
When good things happen to good people, our hearts are warmed and our encouragements are easily given. When bad things happen to good people our sense of justice and fair play is tested, sometimes it is even destroyed.
When bad things happen to bad people a quiet satisfaction settles in us.
When good things happen to bad people our sense of justice and fair play is tested in an altogether different way. Each of these evokes particular responses in us that might just surprise us or catch us out.
In the two reading for today, Jonah, and the workers in the Vineyard it is interesting that in both situations there is a presumption to know what God thinks or will do. And when God does just what we feared God would do, for Jonah, it was to spare the Ninevites, and for the workers in the vineyard, it was to pay them all the same, and there was a sulking and a grumbling over what we might call 11th hour grace.
For Jonah, instead of being thrilled about the success of his mission, after all, the Ninevites listened, despite Jonah taking the long way round to get there. You can just hear Jonah, “I knew it, I knew it … I knew were loving and kind and merciful and patient … and you went ahead and did it.”
And the LORD asks Jonah, “What right do you have to be angry?” This is not
a rebuke from the LORD, instead the Lord seeks to broaden Jonah’s horizons. Now, Nineveh was a great city, but it was also broken and lost in deep need of God's mercy and care and healing. God leaves us to decide if we have the right to be angry, but angry with whom?
Life in the Vineyard brought it own challenges also. Which part of the line would you find yourself; sometimes we do not get the choice as to where we find ourselves, such can be the circumstances of life.
And we are left with Jonah still sulking, sitting outside the city with his shade receding and his temperature rising. We are left there with him to ponder what it means to be God's servant of peace even to those we would prefer not. When mercy is all there is, let us take mercy every time.
Grace and peace, James.
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