Friday, May 26, 2006

God's loving anger and my love of anger

God’s loving anger on our behalf nourishes and encourages faith: it assures us that he will keep working both inside us and around us to set us free of indwelling evil.

David Powlison, JBC, Vol. 14:1 (1995), 41.

“God doesn’t want you to do that.” That’s my four year old telling his dad, a pastor, a Christian husband to not argue with their mom, my wife. Why does it take a four year old to tell me what’s true? That’s my job, to tell him what’s true and what God is like!! My anger shows that I’ve taken God’s job, and turned it on it’s head in a diabolical fashion. God’s anger is loving: because he loves his glory, loves his creation, and hates sin and it’s effects. My anger is selfish: because I love my glory, don’t love his creation, and love sin and maybe dislike it’s effects (like a sad wife, a ruined afternoon, and a lecture from my spiritually sensitive son.) My anger is not nourishing (except maybe grudges and alienation.) My anger does not encourage faith. My son’s notion of godly fatherhood is affected as God’s glory is filtered through the toxic cloud of my anger and is skewed in his eyes. In Ken Sande’s helpful dissection of anger and conflict: I desire (respect, space, comfort - -so far so good), I demand (you better give it to me), I punish (how dare you not give me what I deserve). My anger seeks to set me free from your annoyance, rather than set us free from the evil that is so rampant, that so “easily besets” in family life. I should be lashing out at sin, not at sinners.

One of God’s most frequently used indictments of his covenant people is that they “forget.” It is a spiritual word, not a memory word. Their heart has turned away from God’s love and has adopted a surrogate understanding of the true God or has adopted a surrogate god in the place of the True. They forget that God is working all the time on their behalf. They forget the big anchor points of their history: Exodus, manna, Moses and God’s loving revelation of his covenant love/law. They anchor their hopes on leeks and onions, and forget the lash. God’s anger makes sure I feel his transforming love. My anger makes sure others feel my displeasure. My love of sin dulls my senses to his glory and the bitterness of sin.

One of the glories of Christ's ministry according to the Apostle of Love, the Apostle John, is that he came to destroy the works of the devil. He doesn't negotiate with terrorists. He's cutthroat with idols. Why? Because he's a Rambo Jesus over against the Hippie Jesus. No. It's because he is on a "love offensive" (HT: Jack Miller/Sonship) for his people. His angry love frees us to love him, the one we formerly discounted and disgraced (2 Cor. 5). I'm so glad that he's against me to be for me. Because of grace, me is now a "fluid concept". (HT: Dr. Hitch, love doctor) Like Paul says, I am crucified with Christ (pinned down by God's angry love in union with the forsaken/beloved Jesus on the cross), but nevertheless I live (resurrected by this powerful love in Christ), and the life I now live in the flesh (in a body and world tainted and tempted by sinful thoughts, emotions, and actions) I live by faith (in the one outside of me, working inside of me, and all around me (cf. St. Patrick's Breastplate)) in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2.20)

Praise him for his indescribable gift!

No comments: