Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.
Here is the next submission:
Even the Cattle?!
When I think of unconditional love, I’m reminded how the Book of Jonah ends. Jonah is pictured as a nationalistic prophet who evades the call of God because he has been asked to be an agent of God to reach Israel’s enemy, Assyria, with its capital in Ninevah. He takes a ship and goes in the opposite direction, is caught up in a storm and asks the sailors to throw him overboard. He is swallowed by a great fish (whale?) and prays to God from the belly of the fish. When he is vomited up on the land he reluctantly goes and preaches to the Ninevites hoping they will not listen–but they do. Then he is angry with God, for repenting of the disaster he had planned, and being the gracious God Jonah knew him to be.
Later when a plant that gives Jonah shade dies, he is angry. But God’s reply is: “And should I not be concerned about Ninevah, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left and ALSO MANY ANIMALS?”
It is routine enough to speak of God’s love for all HUMANS but not so routine that Christ came to reconcile the whole world to Himself. A government which distributed Agent Orange in Vietnam to destroy the vegetation should read Deut.20:19-20 which forbids destroying fruit trees during war. Also Romans 8:19-26 speaks of the creation “groaning” until the children of God should be revealed.
Escapist theology that speaks of leaving earth behind is not consistent with Jesus’ prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.” As Matthew Fox puts it, “God is interested in more than the two-legged ones.”
“Lord, may we love all Your creation, all the earth and every grain of sand in it. May we love every leaf, every ray of light, May we love the animals; You have given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Let us not trouble it; let us not harass them; let us not deprive them of their happiness; let us not work against Your intent. For we acknowledge unto You that all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending, and that to withhold any measure of love from anything in Your universe is to withhold that same measure from You.” Fydor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881)