eMeditation on the Bible
NOTE: Although the world has entered a new year, many of the old problems remain; especially, rivalry and tension among nations. The hope of improved international relationships between the West and East (including Russia) have not been realized. It is evident that conflict between world powers will not easily and rapidly return to a more harmonious status quo. Citizens of each nation will experience the impact of global conflicts for years to come.
Question: How do followers of Jesus respond to strife between nations?
Story (Book of Jonah from Part 1 of the Bible, the Old Testament)
Long before Jesus, the nations of Israel and Assyria (todayís Syria) were rivals in West Asia; in fact, they were enemies. Israel felt threatened by Assyria and the people of Israel had a negative view of the Assyrians and their culture. At this time, there was a messenger of God in Israel named Jonah who was told by God to go Nineveh, Assyriaís capital, and tell the people to turn from away from wrongdoing and make things right with God. Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah went to the seacoast and on a ship to sail to West Europe. A fierce storm came and the sailors threw Jonah into the sea when he admitted to them that he was running away from God. Then Jonah was swallowed by a huge fish. In the stomach of the fish, Jonah promised to obey God. The fish spit Jonah out on a beach and he went to Nineveh. He walked through the city for 3 days telling the people what God had said. They responded with sadness over their wrongdoing and asking for Godís forgiveness. Instead of being happy about Godís kindness to the Assyrians, Jonah became angry, saying to God: ďThis is exactly what I thought would happen! Thatís why I tried to run away! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient and ready to forgive people when they turn to you. You donít want to destroy our enemies. Now then, let me die. I am better off dead than alive.Ē God rebuked Jonah. God valued the lives of the Assyrians.
This story teaches us that God is the God of all nations, cultures and ethnic groups. God loves all the people in the world. One nation or group of people is not more special to God than any other. In contrast, Jonah symbolizes a very common attitude of people about their own nation and other nations: "our nation and culture are special to God and superior to other nations and cultures; while the others are less civilized, trustworthy and valued by God. And, when global tensions and conflicts arise, they are our enemies."
Followers of Jesus must never allow their love for their country and patriotism to become the idea of being better than other nations and cultures, and looking down on them with negative feelings. Avoiding this attitude may be increasingly difficult in the years ahead as governments become more adversarial with each other. People will be tempted to take sides and view other nationalities and ethnic groups as opponents. However, Jesus taught us to share God's attitude of love and mercy toward all people in all nations. This principle is very important to follow during times of international tensions and conflicts.
Respond by Growing
Love, respect and value everyone by establishing and maintaining friendships with people who are from a variety of nations and cultures from across the world. Never allow global conflicts to interfere with your relationship with those who not belong to your national, cultural and ethnic background.