God sniffs the air

Monday Musings for February 25, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

Is your life a sweet-smelling savor to God? I hope so. But God is patient. So, if your life stinks, maybe he knows something you don’t know… but let me take that “maybe” back. God, who lives in the eternal now, knows every moment of your freely lived life “before” you live it — and God could just “adjust” your life at any time if that would serve his purposes… but he doesn’t. God just lets us live — unless you’re Jonah… because he really “adjusted” Jonah’s life!

This (I think) is where his longsuffering comes from. God knows we have to go through things in a linear fashion to develop our spiritual metal. But our timeless God sees our victories before we have them. So, instead of reaching down to change our lives and save us some trouble, embarrassment or a ride in a sea monster, he lets us live through them… and by “live through them” I mean sin. Jonah rebelled against God, and that’s out and out sin.

This is what’s behind the phenomenon that “good” people are often seen to be suffering while the wicked seem to prosper disproportionately. Now, God does not create your sin… but he did create the evil that flows from it (Isaiah 45:7). You see, God plays the long game… and human free will makes life both an adventure worth living and a hazard. God wants you for himself, but he doesn’t chase you down and grab you by the ankles. He lets you come to him in your own time.

Sometimes, he sends a Jonah-like person calling us to repent… but the fact that some people do repent means that there’s goodness (sort of) in the air. If this were not true, then repentance would be meaningless. But there is goodness in the air… and that’s what God sniffs. He created us as spiritual beings with moral compasses (Romans 2:14-15), and this morality permeates society. So, although we are saved by his grace and not by our works, “goodness” still honors him while sin still affronts him.

In today’s devotional, we will see how God used the cities of Sodom and Nineveh as a dichotomy to demonstrate what our lives can be. Shall we be citizens of Sodom — evil, inflexible and intractable in our sin? Or, should we be like Nineveh and become aware of our sin and change our lives?

Both cities were denominatively evil, but one survived; this is a picture of humankind. Some of us will repent, and some of us will perish. God would have spared Sodom if it contained as few as ten penitent souls — but, it didn’t… yet he found a seed of repentance in Nineveh which grew as the people humbled themselves before his word. Just note that the city was spared because of its attitude, not because of any good works.

We can see how God works in the world through these two cities. Every person needs to find God on his terms or perish… and we who are saved need to preach God on his terms or others perish. The question is, how much like Jonah do you want to be in the process?

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