It has always seemed natural to me—maybe even ordinary—that God’s grace and love is always present, in whatever circumstance. But I don’t ever want to take that for granted.
Not all spiritual traditions feature the profundity of a loving god. In ancient history, deities were considered angry—fierce storms, calamities and pestilences were punishments. A central tenet of these faith systems was offering sacrifices to placate those gods.
The Judeo-Christian scriptures paint a wonderfully different picture of our God—one of generous, undeserved favor. A Trinity predisposed to love. Although wrathful about idolatries and evil, our God’s loving core shows in providential care, a sacrificial Savior and an inspiring Spirit.
Angry-God theology still exists today in some spiritual realms. Although perhaps muted, the underlying assumption is simple: Unless we do something extraordinary, our God is going to stay angry at us. Some contemporary spiritual leaders consistently remind their faithful that God’s righteous wrath must be appeased—by upright living, striking down unbelievers or offering sacrificial gifts. The underlying motivation remains: God is angry.
Most believers try their best to imitate their deities’ characteristics. Perhaps that’s where some followers can find justification for their own anger. If God is angry at the world, it makes sense for God’s people to be angry, too. That mindset can turn continual wrath into an act of faithfulness or devotion–solidarity with God’s basic, wrath-filled nature.
That theology doesn’t seem practical: What purpose can come from being continually afraid of an angry God? It makes better sense to me that, because our God is love, we can love others as well. We can get God’s work done.
This Good News is always beyond ordinary, never to be taken for granted…!
NEXT TIME: Anger doesn’t work that well
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