Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The God who Changes his Mind?

Salisbury Cathedral last night!
I’ve been spending a few days with The Baptist Union Retreat Group Committee at Sarum College and one of the ‘perks’ has been the wonderful opportunity of going to Choral Evensong across the road in the cathedral.

On Monday night as we sat in the Quire we heard the Old Testament reading from Jonah 3 of God changing his mind over the fate of Nineveh.  He had intended to punish the city but after the citizens there mended their ways we are told – and it came as a bit of a jolt to hear this in the cathedral – ‘God changed his mind’.

Jesus did the same thing in Matthew 15 as he meets with the Syrophoenician woman who wants him to do a healing for a family member.  At first he sort of ‘dismisses’ her, Matthew says because she was ‘foreign’.  Yet this brave woman keeps Jesus in dialogue and eventually he’s convinced of her sincerity, changes his mind and performs a miracle.

I guess like many others I was brought up with that rather fixed idea that God is ‘unchangeable’.  Well, I suppose that’s true in a way – in the sense that his character of love and justice is always faithful.  Yet ‘love’ – and the Bible tells us that ‘God is love’ – ‘love’ is always open, always generous, always willing to be convinced – I think true ‘love’ is open to change.

It’s not loving in the least to have a prejudiced idea of someone and make that the last word.  Such attitudes break families and cause wars.

True love listens and constantly returns, always hoping for the best.  True love is epitomised by the Father of The Prodigal longing every day for the return of his son and then running with open arms to meet him.

Personally I’m inspired that God changed his mind about Nineveh and that Jesus lingered long enough with the Syrophoenician woman to do an about face and heal her daughter.

I hope I am ‘loving’ enough to be that open, generous, and warm-hearted in my life.  Seems to me that at times ‘changing you mind’ is actually a ‘Godly’ thing to do!

Best wishes,

Ian

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