Imagine What A Wonderful World

I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying,
“I love you.”
–Louis Armstrong
Bill Hybels, Sr. Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, once talked about a staff retreat they held a few years ago. They told him that he should be teaching more. He said, “Oh, no, not that. Teaching is so hard for me.”
Well one reason it is so hard is that he tackles difficult topics. He doesn’t go for the easy softballs. And he does it with depth and sensitivity even while knowing that it will be a challenging message for many listeners.
So listening to him talking during his Sept. 18 taking on the topic of hate, I wasn’t surprised.
The amount of hate I see and hear just tears up my heart. People we might suppose to be good people post some of the most hateful things on social media. Even in casual conversations with people I may meet I hear hateful comments.
Much of the time, I think that the people posting such things or uttering such things would be shocked to be told that they are being hateful. Many think it is merely funny. Some think it is only descriptive.
Alongside that emotion is that of anger. Turn on many of the so-called “news channels” and you hear people screaming at each other—all in the name of raising emotions among enough listeners that the ratings are sufficient to attract advertisers.
Hybels opened the Bible to find an example of hate. He found it in Jonah. You know, the fish guy.
God told Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh sharing God’s love for them and the right response to that love. He wanted the people of the city to repent so that he didn’t have to destroy it and all the people in it.
Jonah, hated Nineveh. With good reason. The leaders of the city were cruel, warlike people. They sparked fear in all the area. Kind of like an ISIS. Jonah hated it so much that rather than obey God, he ran away in the opposite direction.
We know the story—a big storm out of character for that season on the Mediterranean came upon them; they discovered the reason was Jonah, they threw him overboard; the storm stopped; a fish came and rescued Jonah; took him back to Palestine and deposited him. So Jonah says, “OK God, you win. I’ll go. But I don’t like it.”
So he goes to the city and preaches. Repent and change your ways, follow the ways of the Lord or you will perish. They did. Was Jonah happy? No. He hated them. He went off and sulked. He said to God, I knew this would happen. I knew you would save them. But I’d rather that they were destroyed.
There is the story of God versus hate.
Hybels didn’t leave there. He offered help for avoiding hate. I’ve written about some of these before. Good tips.
  • Fill yourself with the love of God daily.
  • Steer clear of places that are full of hate: Websites, Talk TV, violent movies, cage fighting.
  • Hang out with radically loving people—the vision of the Acts 2 church.
Remember what Paul wrote to the people in Corinth (1 Cor 13), “and these three abide, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is love.”
Imagine what it would be if we all lived that teaching. Sing it Louis.

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