Actively bringing about much needed change in our communities and hope to the broken and disheartened.
If you haven’t been following along, this post will make more sense if you scroll down a few posts and read my earlier post “A Lack of Understanding on God’s Grace” followed by Tyler’s response “Re: A Lack of Understanding…”
I hope I was clear in stating in my last post that I do not believe the wrath of God is greater than the grace of God (or as Tyler puts it, the love of God). My point was simply to say that the wrath of God gives credence to the grace of God. As one commentator on Tyler’s post said, John 3:16 explains God’s love for the world in the midst of eternal punishment. If there was no punishment for sin, God’s grace wouldn’t really be grace at all. The love he shows toward humanity means so much more when understood in the context of how awful our sin is. Tyler argued in a comment that the fact that Almighty God loves any human is convincing enough in itself – but I would argue that it isn’t enough. Yes it is amazing to think that God would care about a small thing like a human being, but then take that human who is the center of God’s love and affection, and have them spit in God’s face, smack him, beat him, crucify him…and be able to say that God loves them in spite of all that. The weight of that kind of love is unbelievable.
My point was to say that too often we as Christians sugar coat who God really is. We too easily overlook the wrath of God and cling to the love of God. My thought is that when we do things like this, it actually impacts the way we live our lives. We somehow begin to believe that God won’t care about the sin we commit because he isn’t a vengeful God, he is a loving God. Just look at the way the Israelites acted throughout the OT, as Moses is on the mountain top receiving a word from God, they are down below worshipping idols. Every time something went wrong they immediately turned to the idols of the world around them. Yet God continually brought them back to himself – but it got to a point where eventually God allowed them to feel the fulness of his wrath and killed many of them and sent the rest into exile. God took their sin seriously – why would he not take our sin seriously?
Take a look at the story of Jonah. Jonah was an Israelite prophet called by God to take a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah – an Assyrian city. The Assyrians and the Israelites did not get along – in fact Jonah didn’t want to go because he wanted to see God’s wrath poured out on the Assyrians for their unrepentant hearts. But, in the end God wins out and Jonah goes and preaches to the Ninevites. What is his message?
Jonah 1:2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
Jonah’s message was one of God’s wrath against sin. But the people responded to the fact that there was sin in their lives that needed to be repented of – and subsequently God’s mercy and grace were made known to an entire city of people because they responded to the rebuke from Jonah.
Just to clarify – I really dislike those guys on the streets wearing sandwich boards and shouting through a bullhorn that God’s judgement is upon sinners. I think Jesus came and spoke the truth in love – he knelt down next to prositutes caught in the act and told them that he loved them despite there sin, but to go and sin no more. He met with sinners and tax collectors for dinner and gave them hope in the midst of judgement placed upon them by others in their culture. But Jesus still told people that unrepentant hearts would suffer God’s wrath – but it was the way in which he approached it that left a lasting impression and changed the hearts of men and women for 2000 years.
My hope is that we can come to the realization that God’s wrath is real – and just because we say we are Christians doesn’t mean that God’s wrath won’t or doesn’t apply to us. Jesus said “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” (Matt 7:21)
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Rom 5:8)
While we were still sinning – under the wrath of God – God’s great love comes shining through and saves us from our sin. What a great message of hope!