This is part 3 in the series of Putting God’s Wrath in Perspective. We started by considering the fact that God is God. We are not God and really have no say in who God is or what He does. He could be nothing but wrathful, but we discover that God is, ultimately, love.
From there we discover that God’s wrath in history is employed to achieve the ends God purposes to accomplish, beginning with meting out justice, but more importantly to accomplish His ultimate purposes. His ultimate purpose is to bless the entire world and to reconcile the world to God and to mete out justice as justice is due.
This can only make sense, really, in the context of eternity. If this world is all there is, a just God would have to accomplish justice within the parameters of time. He would have to accomplish justice for each person during the life span of each person. That would be impossible to accomplish in a world in which individuals have real choice.
We tend to think of justice in terms of our own experiences. We think of justice at first instance in terms of our own lives; then we look out to the world that we know in the time in which we live. Justice is lacking in our experience – both in our own lives and in the world in which we live. In fact, if we are honest, injustice seems to be the norm.
Yet, we have this insatiable ideal and longing for a just world.
Where exactly does that come from? If justice seems so elusive in this world, why are we not simply accepting of the “way it is”? This is all we know. Why do we long for – actually insist on – something different from the injustice that is our experience?
This is part 2 of the series, Putting God’s Wrath in Perspective. In part 1, we focused on the necessary fact that, if God exists, God is God; so who can question or judge Him if He is wrathful? We are in no position to change God or judge Him. But we are told, if God is wrathful, that is not all He is because we are told that God is love. (1 John 1:14)
With that in mind, I continue this series on the wrath of God by focusing on God in the history revealed in the Bible. I want to pick that history up from the point when God found a man in (Abraham) who was inclined to hear his voice.
Whether you believe that men have evolved from neanderthals to modern intellectuals or believe in Adam and Eve, we have a natural disconnect between us and the divine. This is to be expected based on the fact that we are the stuff of time, space and matter, and God necessarily is not. In that relationship, we need God to reveal Himself to us because we don’t have the tools in our toolbox to understand a timeless, spaceless immaterial God on our own accord.
The biblical story is the story of God reaching out to mankind through people inclined to hear his voice. Abraham was such a man, and God used Abraham to reveal His self in history to mankind. God chose this man, Abraham, to be the vehicle by which he would bless all people because Abraham was inclined to hear God and respond to him.
Through Abraham and one miraculously born son, Isaac, God promised to create a people that would be as many as the stars in the sky. The Old Testament is the story of God establishing these people, though these people were difficult to manage. They grumbled and complained a lot. They didn’t understand what God was doing. They were more inclined to go in a different direction and live differently than God wanted them to live, but God made his promise to Abraham, and He would keep it.
More than 86 years have passed since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth. Almost 50 years have passed since his death. Not insignificantly, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day at the anniversary of his birth, not the anniversary of his death. Though I cannot help but remember the tragic day of his death that left its imprint on my young, impressionable mind, I pray that the legacy of his life will draw us back to his message. May the light of his life outshine the darkness left in the void of his death.
“I had a dream….” are the words that echo through the halls of history into our present consciousness. We hear those words repeated with the same sense of passion with which they were first spoken, but they seem dulled by the resistance of time. The present passion with which those words were spoken sits now like a…
He was 19 years old. He went to an ethnically diverse, upscale high school near Harvard. He was a popular kid, a good athlete, very bright, well-liked. He graduated high school early and was studying to be a doctor. He killed three people, critically wounded dozens and injured many dozens more … We want him to be a monster! But “he was a good kid“.
Listening to the reflections on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from his classmates and others who knew him and looking at his graduation photo leaves me perplexed. The rage and anger that arises from my gut at the sight of the bombing victims somehow does not match the image that comes from the reflections of people who knew him. It does not fit neatly into my black and white compartments. I want to hate him, but I see a person who seemed like just “a good kid”.
Smart, popular, athletic, young … what happened!!!?
Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper all conjure up images of pure evil. Despicable, villainous, ugly, blackened souls, with no redeeming value. The depth of their depravity seems cavernous. We loathe them. We spit on their graves. We cannot imagine what possessed them. Continue reading “The Face of Evil”→