(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Tim Keller entitled, Counterfeit Gods.
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
I had this idol exposed a few weeks ago.
Our nation watched the chaos and tragedy of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. Without much resistance, the Taliban, known terrorists and ones who gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden, took over the country, drove our people out of the US Embassy and created fear for all who were Americans or sympathetic to America. As well they are known to persecute Christians and eliminate anyone who would stand opposed to their radical version of Islam.
I had a Jonah moment.
It wasn’t a noble calling to go preach to the city of Kabul (I am sure I would have done just like Jonah and run the other way). It was simply an invitation to pray for the Taliban and their conversion. I found a prayer online that was well-written and decided to use it in worship on Sunday. As I read through it, the last set of petitions were for the conversion of the Taliban.
What?!? Pray for people who sought the death of Christians? People who hate westerners and Americans with a passion? People who are brutal to their enemies and show no mercy to those who would oppose them?
Why would I pray for THEM?
It wasn’t because I couldn’t. In fact I felt it was the “right” pastor thing to do. Afterall, Jesus taught, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, … (Matthew 5:44).”
It wasn’t because they didn’t need Jesus…they do.
If I am honest with my heart, I didn’t think they deserved grace. I didn’t want to risk the chance that God’s grace would actually change a heart and I would spend an eternity in heaven with a member of the Taliban.
This was my Jonah moment. Jonah knew God was gracious. He knew there was a good chance that if the people of Ninevah were called to repent, that they actually would. Jonah wanted the destruction of Ninevah, not the salvation of the people. So when God spared them, he was angry. He thought he deserved God’s grace more than they did (and remember he had just experienced grace by a large fish swallowing him before he drowned!).
That is true of me. My sinful heart struggles with the idol of superiority. It wants to think that I deserve grace more than someone else. It wants to think that in someway I am better for God’s kingdom than someone else. It wants to think that I can make the determination who gets God’s grace and who doesn’t. It wants to think that I can bring judgment on people and keep them outside of heaven.
But I can’t. It’s all a lie of my sinful heart to think that in some way I am superior to others, somehow I deserve God’s grace more than someone else.
I don’t. You don’t.
Here’s the truth that reorients our heart:
Romans 3:22 There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
God wants ALL to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth…ALL. Period.
It’s that heart of God that included me in grace. It’s that heart of God that includes everyone in grace. So if he will make his grace available to all as he did to me, I will do the same.
Apply: Is there an individual or group of individuals that you hope suffer the wrath of God? Take time today to pray for their conversion and that they would know and experience God’s grace.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my idols of superiority that lead me to think that I deserve your grace more than someone else. Transform my heart to be like yours that desires and works toward the salvation of all people through your grace. AMEN.