Do You Share God's Heart?
I don't know about you, but sometimes I like to read the Bible with self-righteous glasses and look down on the men and women who make faithless blunders and selfish decisions.
But I can't get very far before God convicts me of my own sin and reminds me that I'm more like these people than unlike them.
Jonah is one of those characters. I like to think that I would never run from the call of God, but in ways that we don't even realize, you and I run every day.
Why do we run from God?
The encouraging gospel message of Jonah is that there is grace for runners like us. God chases us down, gives a second a chance, and invites us to run to him instead of from him!
Jonah ran from God because Jonah didn’t have God’s heart. I would ask you: do you have God’s heart? Do you love what God loves? Do you hate what God hates? Do you think of yourself the way God thinks of you? Do you think of your neighbors of the way God thinks of your neighbors? Do you think about the awesome reality of God’s grace as something that you need and something that the people around you need? If I watched the video of your life, would I say, “This is a person that understands how desperately they need grace.” You just see it in the way they live.
If I watched your life, would I see you giving that grace all the time with others in tenderness and compassion and patience and love—self-sacrificing moments of grace because you have God’s heart. Maybe this book starts where all of us should start, with the question: Do I have the heart of God? And my answer to that is: a little bit, but there’s work to be done.
Would you be willing to pray with me that God in his grace would form even more in us a heart like his own? So that, rather than running from his plan, we would love his plan. Rather than debating with how he thinks about us, we’d humbly confess that his critique of us is right. And rather than owning our lives, our lives would be lived in a street-level surrender to him.
The question on the table in the first verses of Jonah is: Do you have God’s heart? It’s a tough question, but I want to say this. When you ask that questions, you ought to know, that the bright, golden promise of the new covenant coming of Christ was that he would give us—what, do you know?—a new heart. So you don’t have to be afraid of confessing you don’t have God’s heart. You don’t have to wallow in guilt. You don’t have to run away in shame. You will remember that the most difficult moment of the suffering of Jesus on the cross wasn’t physical, it was relational. It was that moment when the Father turned his back on the son, and Jesus, in relational torment cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” “God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Hear what I’m about to say. Jesus took every ounce of your rejection so in your moments of confession, no matter how dark, you would never again see the back of God’s head. You can run to him. And you can say, “No, I don’t have your heart in the way that I should. Oh, won’t you continue to create in me a clean heart and I run to you to receive mercy and grace in my moment of need.” Do you have God’s heart?