What is God Like?
True Narratives Smashing Distorted Concepts
“God is Holy”
~God is wrathful
God is mad all the time, and wrath and anger are essential to His nature because He’s holy and we are not.
~God does not care about our sin
This would actually undermine the entire Christian story.
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” -H. Richard Neibuhr
Jesus’ narrative: Wrath is God’s right action
~Many passages of Scripture do indeed speak of wrath, judgement, condemnation.
~Integrating His wrath and love is difficult for us, but since Jesus did, so must we.
Passion versus pathos
~It’s not an option to only embrace the parts of God we are comfortable with a la Thomas Jefferson.
~Agape– to will the good of another, to see the precious jewel at the core of every person.
God’s love is seen more as parent to child than infatuated teens. It does not wax and wane.
~We humanly connect wrath with being out of control.
~God’s wrath is not a crazed rage but rather a consistent opposition to sin and evil.
~God hates (detests) sin. Even this concept is tough for us.
~In the Bible, His wrath is pathos not passion.
Passion– emotional convulsion, loss of self-control
Pathos– an act formed with care and intention, the result of determination and decision
~Actually an act of love! God is fiercely and forcefully opposed to the things that destroy His precious people.
~Wrath is not a permanent attribute of God. Whereas holiness and love are part of His nature, wrath is contingent upon human sin. If there were no sin, there would be no wrath.
~A necessary reaction of a good and beautiful God to evil.
~God’s wrath is a temporary and just verdict on sin and evil. Remember, it’s our rejection of Him, not our sin that brings judgement. It is our lack of choice.
~Example of the formation of MADD
Holiness is the essence of God
~There is no sin, evil, or darkness in Him.
~He is love and holiness and cannot be otherwise. This is not true of wrath. Wrath is not something He is, but something He does.
~While it is correct to say God is holy, it is not correct to say God is wrathful. Wrath is the just act of a holy God toward sin (unbelief?).
~God is first holy and pure. Wrath comes from rejection of God by humans and is a necessary part of His love.
Our God is a consuming fire Hebrews 12:29
~”Love loves unto purity.” -George MacDonald
God loves us so much that He longs for us to be pure and works tirelessly to make us pure. God is against sin and thus for humans:
“He is always against sin; in so far as, and while, they and sin are one, He is against them- against their desires, their aims, their fears, and their hopes; and thus He is altogether for them.”
~God is against my sin because He is for me, for my purity conforming to the image of
Jesus. If I am for sin, God is against those desires because they cause my destruction.
~I am prone to excusing my sin or rationalizing my weakness, but God is not. Sin hurts me, Him, and others.
~His kindness and love lead to genuine repentance. This is how He burns it out. You cannot be truly happy or have shalom with allowed sin in your life.
You don’t really want an unholy God
~You don’t really want the permissive parent.
~Being soft on sin is not really loving because sin destroys.
~I want a God who hates anything that destroys me.
~Because the true God not only hates what destroys me (sin & alienation) but also takes steps to destroy my destroyer, I love Him.
The necessity of hell
~Love does not demand love in return; it’s not coercive.
~Hell is simply isolation from God.
~People choose hell, barring God from their life, thus the doors of hell are locked from the inside.
~Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” many of us say (John Milton). There is part of human life that resists relinquishing control to God.
~God cares deeply about sin because it destroys His precious children. And God longs for holiness in us because it is the way to wholeness.
*God willingly sacrificed Himself to put an end to the problem of sin, breaking its power and taking away our guilt. We are able to triumph over temptation through Him. On our own we’re totally screwed. Using what He’s provided, we are totally victorious.
Grace is more than overlooking sins
~Example of girl feeling justified in her sinful behavior because of the message of God’s love.
~People need to know God’s unconditional love first, before being able to deal with sin it seems. We assume wrath comes before grace.
~Until we have been assured that we are loved and forgiven, it is impossible to address our sinfulness correctly. One must feel safe. Otherwise we will operate out of our own efforts to change, and this is a losing battle.
~God’s first word is always grace, then we will understand holiness.