Pagans put together pieces of the puzzle
Several years ago, Roman Catholic missionaries begin to migrate to remote villages in the South America continent.
After some time there it became abundantly clear that their primary purpose for coming was not love for God and or people. They were, in fact, more concerned about harvesting diamonds and other precious stones in the area.
A tribal chief began to realize that the missionaries were not who made themselves about to be. At one tribal meeting he boldly raised a basket of diamonds and said, “Behold! The Christian god!”
The missionaries got wind of this and captured the chief. During their so-called trial, they condemned him to die by burning him at the stake. While tied to the stake, the missionaries offered him the gospel assuring him that he would go to heaven.
To this, the chief asked, “Where do Christians go when they die?”
They said that they would be in heaven too.
Slightly alarmed at this, the chief boldly says, “If Christians go to heaven, I would rather go to hell.”
The pagan in this story had properly put the pieces of the puzzle together. He picked up what the so-called Christians missed, that genuine faith is followed by genuine actions. In this case, the pagan was the more insightful one.
This brings my mind to the account of Jonah, a very well known missionary in the Bible. In Jonah 1:4-11, we are told that Jonah ran from the presence of the Lord. He was dissatisfied with the mission that God bestowed him. God ordered him to bring a message to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Jonah had other things in mind and decided to hop a ship to Tarshish.
During his flight, God brought a storm upon the ship which caused great alarm amongst the crew.
But notice the difference between the Jonah and the pagan crew members.
The pagans were frightened, but Jonah was fast asleep below. The pagans decided to cry out to their gods, but Jonah gave no indication that he was about to pray. The pagans were hoping to discern the will of God so as to avoid disaster, but Jonah remained silent until the lots forced him to speak. The heathens were heartfelt, while Jonah was jaded.
Jonah, being a prophet of the one true God, should have known better. Jonah claimed to fear the Lord but the pagans were the only ones acting in fear.
It is sad to observe that the pagans proved to be more insightful.
As a Christian, I claim to follow the one true God. But I have to be honest with myself.
Sometimes my actions do not properly reflect my faith. When I look at other religions, I have noticed that they are more devout to their false god than Christians are to their true God.
Let us not become jaded Jonah. When we have a clear mandate from the Lord, let us embrace it rather than fun from it.
Seth Miller is the pastor of Sulpher Springs Baptist Church.