THE BOOK OF JONAH #4 – GOD’S MESSAGE TO THE OPPRESSORS AND THE OPPRESSED – SERMON RESOURCES
ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP
In the Lord’s prayer, we pray: Forgive us our sins (trespasses, debts), as we forgive those who sin (trespass, owe us debts) against us. We seek God’s mercy and He is merciful towards us. But He asks that we recognize that it is fact mercy, and not justice, that we seek and receive, by showing the same mercy towards others.
Jonah is a story about oppressed and oppressors. Both need God’s mercy and God offers his mercy to both. We can be both at the same time.
As humans, we are usually more in touch with ways in which we are oppressed compared to ways that we oppress others. Having privileges that others do not have and not recognizing these privileges can be experienced as oppressive by the less privileged. In order to get more in touch with privileges which may be hidden to us, take the online.
After you take the test, invite God to join you as you review the results. Do you agree with the results? Do you disagree? You might share these thoughts and feelings with God? What does He think and how does He feel about these aspects of your life? How is God being toward you as you share your thoughts and feelings with Him? If you sense that there are aspects of your life which can be oppressive towards others, how is God asking you to respond? Spend a few moments sitting quietly on this topic to give God a chance to speak to your heart.
God’s expectation for how his people act towards those who oppress and persecute them is difficult to put into practice. It requires the work of his Spirit deep within us. You might read the following passage from chapter 12 of Romans a couple of times slowly. Pause when you react to a particular verse. Hold the meaning of that verse between you and God, inviting his Spirit to be with you.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Make a note of any siginificant reactions or inspirations from your prayer.
Finally, you might pray the following prayer for terrorists as a way to bring home the general encouragement from Paul. Again, read the prayer a couple of times slowly. Pause when you react to a particular verse. Hold the meaning of that verse between you and God, inviting his Spirit to be with you.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.