2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
A few days ago I had a discussion about other faiths and people who are not Christians with some friends. The point was made that God cares for all people. We are all God’s children in the broad sense that we are all created in His image. Some were surprised thinking that God only cares for Christians. The Bible says otherwise God’s rescue plan (John 3:16) for lost and broken people is available to every human being.
The reluctant prophet of the Old Testament, Jonah got his eyes opened to God’s love for all mankind when God spared the Ninevites by sending Jonah to preach repentance to them; “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (Jonah 4:2) And what did God reply? “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (Jonah 4:11) Jonah wanted the Ninevites dead but God had other plans!
None of us are physically born into His grace no matter how pious our parents were or are. All come dirty and must be born again. Jesus said; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” (John 3:7,8)
None of us live our lives in a pure and righteous way that pleases God on our own strength and merit; “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-24)
No one is so good that they don’t need to be saved although some may think they are. And no one is so bad that they can’t be saved through faith in Jesus although some may think otherwise. I love Jesus’ parable of the tax collector and the pharisee; “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
We live in a small world and it’s getting smaller all the time. There are many people in our neighbourhoods that are not like us. There are many people living among us that don’t believe as we do. There are even many people in our land who are hostile to our beliefs and way of life. How should we deal with them? Jesus tells us; “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
How can a man like me do that? All too often, I struggle with being loving and kind to those closest to me when my temper is short or my pride is wounded. It is too much for me on my own. Thankfully God provides; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Come Lord Jesus!