Friday, December 21, 2007

The Wrath of God

I tend to hold an angry image of God. I am choleric, so, in typical human fashion, I imagine the Almighty in my own image.

In justification for this point of view, I fondly point to Old Testament floods and fires, plagues and battles, all wrought by our Lord's own invincible will. And, of course, I do not forget to mention Jesus cleansing the temple of moneychangers. How I love to tell the story of His whipping folks with cord and overturning tables. How often I'd like to do the same.

My father has just reminded me that what our Lord does, He does with love:
When He admonished, He did so with love – not to vent His spleen because somebody crossed Him, but because they needed correction to make straight the way for their own salvation.

So often the story of Jesus driving the moneychangers from the temple is cited as the text to justify justifiable anger. It’s hard for me to imagine Jesus doing anything out of anger and not love. Zeal is a very different thing from anger. He had zeal for His Father’s house and the moneychangers needed to have that, too. The moneychangers needed to be admonished. Surely moneychangers are people, heirs to the Kingdom, children of God. Surely Jesus loved them. He did what He had to do. It’s not easy to make a point in a raucous din.
I am well rebuked.

O.L.G.S. Jesus Christ is rightly called zealous. He is also rightly called wrathful. Maybe the difference between zeal and anger pointed out by my father is in motive. "Anger" seems to stem from wounded pride, "zeal" from love.

I would do well to remember the difference. My own outbursts usually (not always) have been of the wrong kind, steeped and saturated as I am in willful pride, hubris, arrogance, boastfulness, and conceit.

1 comment:

Dusty M Brahlek said...

I try and think of "God's Wrath" like that of a father to his children. (Though I would not know about this directly.) I figure his "wrath" comes about just as a father of a young teenager would if she stayed out all night with her friends.

Just as parents are not to act out of anger, but love. He acts out of love not anger.

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