They Deserved What??

My daughter was using one of those electronic reader books yesterday – where you follow along, and someone else besides Mommy reads each page…  I was listening while making invitations, and had to ask her to turn the page back, because I thought I had heard wrong.  Nope.

Her story book on Jonah ends with “Yes, the Ninevites had been wicked.  But they were God’s children, and they deserved to be forgiven.  Jonah understood God’s lesson.  He spent the rest of his days doing God’s work with faith and love.”

My Bible story of Jonah ends with him angry enough about the whole thing that he tells the Lord he wishes he would die.  We don’t know if Jonah truly repents of his arrogance and judgement, or if he dies angry with God.  That’s just a feel-good addition to the Bible.

Worse though, I think, than supposing Jonah ever got it right, is to tell little children that the Ninevites DESERVED to be forgiven.  Fundamentally, this mentality is where so much of Christianity is going astray.  What the Ninevites DESERVED was the judgement and condemnation that Jonah was telling them of.  Even Jonah knew that God was a God willing to give to people what they do not deserve.  “That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”  God had every right to be angry.  God had every reason to burn the city down, and punish everyone in it for their wickedness.  God does not owe anyone the opportunity to repent.  He does not owe us mercy, or forgiveness – that is why we call it grace.  Forgiveness, and a right standing with God, is not something we deserve.  Wrath and judgment is what we deserve.  To suppose that we deserve forgiveness is to nullify grace, and the free gift of God, that is eternal life (Romans 6:3)

It saddens me.  To teach children that they deserve forgiveness.  Not that they deserve to be held accountable for their sin against a holy God.  May we be willing to teach them truth, that we are so pitifully undeserving of forgiveness, but we serve a gracious, merciful and loving God – willing to give us what we DON’T deserve.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bishop
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 07:36:05

    Good to see you posting again.

    Reply

  2. Nicole
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 08:35:15

    Hey Stranger!

    thank you – life has slowed down momentarily – I actually have time to think again 🙂

    Reply

  3. clearly
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 10:14:53

    I almost passed out when I saw “Verity” come up on my google reader this morning:)

    I’m so thankful that the gospel is not a reward for my works; if it were, it wouldn’t be good news and grace wouldn’t be grace.

    Reply

  4. rick
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 10:44:26

    welcome back …

    Reply

  5. susan
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:38:27

    GOOD POST SISTA!

    i too have had to change words in our children’s bibles and story books… because they are very inaccurate.
    Sometimes we just read the story the way it is written and add our own little comments here and there, asking questions to make Julia think about what the author is trying to say, and what the Bible really says.

    it offers a good lesson in discernment early on.

    i’d love if you updated us on any ways you turn these mis-reads into lessons for your kiddo’s i’m always looking for more “kid-friendly-language” for communicating theology.

    Reply

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