Here’s another, shall we say, theology, that everyone is buying into: God is love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he isn’t. He very much is. But what are we missing here?
What God also is
God is love, yes, but God is also just.
Anyone who’s ever properly read a story from the Bible knows this. The thing about God’s attributes is that they aren’t mutually exclusive. We can’t say that God cannot be just when he is showing love. What we can say, however, is that God shows love and justice simultaneously such that the justice he possesses is loving. That’s the essence of the verse that says God disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6).
Allow me to sidetrack a little, because I often fall into this trap:
One of the verses in the Bible I find comfort in is Romans 12:19 which says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” I love this verse because it gives me the feeling of power over those who attack me, offend me, step on my toes, eat my sandwiches, anything. And because I’m allergic to conflict, I would much rather disappear than face my enemies. Some people will say that I’m a coward and a pushover, but what they don’t know is that in the privacy of my room, I’m calling forth the wrath of God (and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does this).
However, this too is wrong, because God also says to love your enemies and to do good to those who hurt you and not lay a curse on anyone and, here’s another favourite from Proverbs 24:17-18, “When your enemies fall, don’t rejoice. When they stumble, don’t let your heart be glad, or the Lord will see it and be displeased, and he will turn his anger from them.”
The moment we disobey him, we’ve changed courts. The second I curse my enemies, I’ve switched teams.
What does God save us from?
Pastor and theologian R C Sproul says, and I quote:
Ultimately, what we are saved from is God. Because the immediate problem that salvation addresses is our estrangement and alienation from God who is righteous, who is holy and who has decreed that he will judge the world and he would pour out his wrath upon those who remain impenitent to the end.
The subtle scheme
Jesus died to save us from the wrath and the justice of God. He did it so we wouldn’t have to – we’ve heard this said over and over again and yet somehow we retain a distorted message and it goes like this:
Jesus died therefore I’m insured.
God loves me therefore the world revolves around me.
God is merciful therefore he will let this pass.
Anyone ever remember Sodom and Gomorrah? The Great Flood? The one where there’s a man named Korah and the ground opens up and swallows him whole? Oh, but that was ages ago. Surely God has adapted to the postmodern age.
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