Sunday, August 02, 2009
One of the downsides of being a preacher at Hopedale Baptist Church is that there are a number of well qualified preachers to fill the pulpit when Pastor Terry takes some time off. It seems that there are fewer opportunities to get to preach at Hopedale and anybody that feels the call to preach looks forward to each chance to do what God has called us to do.
Today, one of our newer people stepped in and did a great job. Dennis Williams and his family recently moved to Ozark from Denver CO. Dennis pastored a church there and met Pastor Terry a few years ago when Hopedale sent a team Denver to do some summer mission work.
Dennis' message came from the Book of Jonah. The Book of Jonah is about God's love for a people that Jonah didn't like. God sent Jonah to them to warn them of their wrongdoing and the nation repented and God spared them the destruction that would have been theirs if they had chosen to continue in their sinful ways. Jonah was upset that God had turned from his wrath and spared the city.
Today, we often have our own judgments about who God loves and who He doesn't. We chose to believe that God doesn't love Muslims, or God doesn't love Democrats, or God doesn't love homosexuals. If God doesn't love them, then it's okay for us not to love them. The problem with that thinking is that God does love them. His desire is that they would repent and turn toward Him. We have no more right to wish God's judgment on people now than Jonah had to wish for the destruction of Nineveh.
All-in-all, I'd have to say that Dennis went deep and hit one out of the park. I'll never think of Jonah as a fish story again. I will always remember that is about looking at others through God's eyes--with love and a hope for repentance and redemption.