A cozy world of self-protection

By Dave Henning / September 9, 2023

“The book of Jonah is a shot across the bow.  God asks , how can we look at anyone — even those with deeply opposing beliefs and practices — with no compassion?  If your compassion is going to resemble God’s, you must abandon a cozy world of self-protection.”- Timothy Keller

“These inward trials I employ, / From self, and pride, to set thee free; / And break they schemes of earthly joy, / That thou mayst find thy all in me.”- John Newton, Olney Hymns

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”- Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 12 of The Prodigal Prophet as he observes that most of us, like Jonah, need multiple exposures both to our need for God’s grace and to the gospel message.  In addition, Pastor Keller underscores, “the most fundamental thing about us is that we are sinners saved by grace.”

Therefore, on the one hand, as children of God, our received identity sweeps aside pride and humbles us.  Yet, on the other hand, we receive absolute assurance of God’s endless, unchanging love as we appear in Christ.

Hence, Pastor Keller counsels, the Lord answers our prayers for grace and faith.  However, in the process, the Lord must liberate us from the things that enslave, drive, and control us.  Thus, we need to see that we’re truly free when we love God supremely.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller exhorts:

“This call of God to Jonah is a call to us.  It is a painful process to find our all in him, but it is the only real path to joy.  So let us not feel sorry for ourselves.  Jesus took an infinitely more painful path. . . .  Wall with [your friend] through this suffering.  Of course you’re going to weep.  It’s going to hurt!  That’s what God did for you.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses most help you abandon a cozy world of self-protection?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the annotated bibliography of The Prodigal Prophet

About the author

Dave Henning

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