A couple days ago I wrote about God’s judgment. Though the article didn’t generate any conversation, it did receive some negative feedback. I’m not surprised because we live in a day when people calling themselves Christians pooh-pooh the idea that God will actually be sending anyone to hell, while others question whether or not they might be nicer than the Almighty. Or maybe they’d prefer a different name for Him — the All Tolerant One, perhaps. But I jest, and this really isn’t a matter for levity.
The fact is, we humans find it easy to label others as bigots or hate-mongers or hypocrites. We have no problem criticizing each other to our faces. We can even yell at God and tell Him how disappointed or angry we are at Him. But far be it for us to believe God can do the same thing in return. No, no. He’s supposed to stand meekly by and love.
But that idea is nonsense. We get angry at the things we perceive to be wrong. Why shouldn’t God, in whose image we’re made?
Someone may counter that it is fine for God to get angry, but not fine for Him to give sinners consequences, especially ultimate consequences. That position, of course, strips God of His power. So He’s a loving God who can get angry when a child is molested, but He can’t punish the evildoer.
How then is He loving? Real love, as author and speaker Gary Chapman (The Five Love Languages) said in his sermon on Sunday, is expressed in God’s anger toward sin and the wicked.
Psalm 136 includes God’s divine intervention against Egypt and other nations standing against Israel as an evidence of His lovingkindness.
To Him who smote the Egyptians in their firstborn,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,…
He overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting…
To Him who smote great kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And slew mighty kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And Og, king of Bashan,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting (vv 10-20)
Other passages in Scripture declare God’s acts of judgment to be the very way in which He showed Himself so that the nations would know Him, turn from their sin, and come to Him.
His intention in correcting those who forsake Him is to bring them back:
O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You have smitten them,
But they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3)
When rejection is complete, God acts on behalf of those who are being sinned against:
So their houses are full of deceit;
Therefore they have become great and rich.
‘They are fat, they are sleek,
They also excel in deeds of wickedness;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the orphan, that they may prosper;
And they do not defend the rights of the poor.
‘Shall I not punish these people?’ declares the LORD,
‘On a nation such as this
Shall I not avenge Myself?’
“An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so! (Jeremiah 5:27-31a – emphasis mine)
An appalling thing, God says, when we spurn His authority and take it for ourselves. Such is the false teaching of our day.
Here are a few comments to a couple recent controversial articles, apparently made by Christians. This person agrees that Christians need to grow up, then he says:
I choose to find redemption in the gospel of Christ and yet feel empowered to refuse to accept the feudal rantings of many religious leaders.
Or there’s this one:
are all of you out there so naive and stupid not to see the propaganda
Then there’s this one:
As a Chrisitian, I do not want to come under the same umbrella as those that hate, undermine, are haughty and proud, and who cause millions of people to avoid even looking at Christianity as an option because of the behavior of many christians in their hate-mongering, their pride, their ‘holier-than-thou-attitude’.
Or how about this helpful question:
What rock are you living under?
Yes, these are people who claim to be Christians, though I don’t know if they all would claim God doesn’t have the right to judge. It’s quite clear, though, that they believe they DO have the right to judge.
Maybe it’s time we Christians take a hard look at our own attitudes. God is rightfully angry at sin and wickedness. What are we angry about? And are we taking it upon ourselves to reap vengeance with our words?