Here you may say, “I don’t like the idea of the wrath of God. I want a God of love.”
The problem is that if you want a loving God, you have to have an angry God. Please think about it. Loving people can get angry, not in spite of their love but because of it. In fact, the more closely and deeply you love people in your life, the angrier you can get. Have you noticed that? When you see people who are harmed or abused, you get mad. If you see people abusing themselves, you get mad at them, out of love. Your senses of love and justice are activated together, not in opposition to each other. If you see people destroying themselves or destroying other people and you don’t get mad, it’s because you don’t care. You’re too absorbed in yourself, too cynical, too hard. The more loving you are, the more ferociously angry you will be at whatever harms your beloved. And the greater the harm, the more resolute your opposition will be.
When we think of God’s wrath, we usually think of God’s justice, and that is right. Those who care about justice get angry when they see justice being trampled upon, and we should expect a perfectly just God to do the same. But we don’t ponder how much his anger is also a function of his love and goodness. The Bible tells us that God loves everything he has made. That’s one of the reasons he’s angry at what’s going on in his creation; he is angry at anything or anyone that is destroying the people and the world he loves. His capacity for love is so much greater than ours—and the cumulative extent of evil in the world is so vast—that the word wrath doesn’t really do justice to how God rightly feels when he looks at the world. So it makes no sense to say, “I don’t want a wrathful God, I want a loving God.” If God is loving and good, he must get angry at evil—angry enough to do something about it.
Consider this also: If you don’t believe in a God of wrath, you have no idea of your value. Here’s what I mean. A god without wrath has no need to go to the cross and suffer incredible agony and die in order to save you. Picture on the left a god who pays nothing in order to love you, and picture on the right the God of the Bible, who, because he’s angry at evil, must go to the cross, absorb the debt, pay the ransom, and suffer immense torment. How do you know how much the “free love” god loves you or how valuable are you to him? Well, his love is just a concept. You don’t know at all. This god pays no price in order to love you. How valuable are you to the God of the Bible? Valuable enough that he would go to these depths for you.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Wrath of Love by Tim Keller
If Lee's sermon left you with lots of questions and ideas to wrestle with (as it did me), then let me share some thoughts from Tim Keller that I've found helpful. This is from his book King's Cross and the chapter entitled "The Cup" (sound familiar?).