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Know God in a Year #152 Does God Force Us to Believe?

Jesus tours Galilee for the last time. Setting out for Samaria, he sends James and John ahead for lodging. His final destination is Jerusalem for Passover and somehow the Samaritans discover this. They are offended thinking Jesus prefers Jews to them, and won’t accommodate them. Rivalry!
James and John are angry! Samaritans have welcomed him before, and should be honored with his presence!
They want punishment and rant to Jesus, ending with, “Shall we command fire to come down and burn them up as Elijah did?”* They’re surprised at Jesus answer.
“You don’t realize where your attitude comes from, Messiah has come to save men’s lives, not destroy them.”
Jesus has shown God’s way, but humans are slow to understand that God never forces cooperation, never insists men receive Him. Jesus never compels men.
It is Satan, and humans inspired by him, who force conscience, who want to hurt and destroy those who don’t appreciate us, our work and ideas. (Evidently Satan inspired Elijah’s fear and reaction?)
God is repulsed when people, pretending holiness, bring suffering on those He loves–especially when trying to “convert” them! Every human being is God’s by creation. Jesus came for all. He must surely have suffered watching Elijah react from fear, but honored his prophet’s words and choice because he was Theirs.*
God wins us by showing His love, His kindness,** as Jesus shows the Samaritans by understanding, leaving, and speaking well of them.
The Samaritans’ bigotry cost them the tremendous blessing of Jesus’ life-giving presence. How sad for them!  “…And he went to Perea, on the other side of the Jordan.”
Luke 9:51-56   *2 Kings 1:15  **Romans 2:4

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