Has God ever been angry at you? Could He get angry at you if you do the wrong thing?
Talking about destruction, are you ready to have your misperceptions about an angry God blown up? Some might say “Oh, yes!” Then there will be some who say, “No way! I know I am totally right in my world view of God. I know all my doctrines, traditions, teachings are totally accurate. Don’t you mess with my religious paradigms.” If your response is the latter, please stop reading.
Let’s see if Saul of Tarsus’ encounter with Jesus blows holes in our mindsets about an angry God.
Saul of Tarsus’ actions should anger God
- destroyed, ravaged, harassed believers (the church)
- exceedingly enraged against Christians
- punished believers
- murdered and agreed to killing many believers
- compelled believers to blaspheme Christ’s name
- persecuted the church, known as the Way
- imprisoned men and women, and beat them
- was extremely zealous for his traditions and God
- believed he was obeying his God and doing the right thing
See any similarities when it comes to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, dedicated terrorists?
What was God’s response to Saul’s raging actions? Beat him up? Reject him? Doom him to hell? Have nothing to do with Saul until he repented his brains out?
For some reason, I had this picture that Saul got knocked off his donkey by that bright light, as he traveled to Damascus. Maybe it was from a cartoon or an illustration about this story? Anyway, with that image in my imagination, I read into this Damascus Road story a violent interruption by God.
To my surprise, there is no donkey mentioned in Paul’s account! It is just a brilliant light surrounding Saul, and he then falls to the ground. So much for an angry God!
Paul believed in an angry God
Now remember, Saul’s upbringing included doing many sacrifices to keep God happy. Hey, kind of like the heathens appeasing all their pagan deities with their sacrifices! Hmmm.
As far as Saul/Paul was concerned, he and God were on the same page. You blow it, you don’t follow the one true God, you pay. Hence, Saul’s ravaging anger and destruction.
But God had a good plan for Saul/Paul. God knew who he really was, what He had made in His image. And God knew the perfect timing to awaken Saul to His unconditional love for him and Paul’s true identity. No wonder Paul would later pen, “nothing can separate us from the love of God…!”
Paul gained greater clarity – “they have a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge.” (Rom 10:2) My, what zeal Saul had for his ‘god’. Of course it was a vindictive zeal. Boy, was he off! God is not vindictive, and never has been.
Saul’s vindictive zeal came out of self righteousness! Saul of Tarsus had been totally ignorant of God’s righteousness, and was good at establishing his own. (Rom 10:3) After all, he followed the letter of the law to the “T”.
Now, what is this “knowledge” of which Paul speaks?
Knowledge in the face of Christ Jesus! (2Cor 4:6)
Hey, remember, that Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father…No one knows the Father except the Son…the Father and I are One…the Father who dwells in Me does the works themselves…the Father tells Me what I should say…If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…”
Saul thought he knew God. But he didn’t because He didn’t know Jesus. It was only when Jesus showed up that Saul/Paul finally began to know the One true God.
Did Jesus ever pour out wrath on anyone while He walked this earth? Nope. Have you ever pondered how nonviolent Jesus was?
Somehow we forget that Jesus was showing us exactly who the Father God was. We still like to impose man’s misunderstanding and limited view of God in the Old Testament onto who Jesus displayed God to be.
God did speak in various times and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He gave His final word about Himself, and us, through His Son. (Heb 1:1-3) We must look to Jesus, and Jesus only, to see who God really is!
No longer judge according to the flesh
If we truly understand Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”, then we would no longer judge anyone according to the flesh. Jesus said, I judge no one. (Jn 8:15) Paul said, in light of the reconciliation that happened at the cross, they too, no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. (2Cor 5:16)
God and Jesus were not angry with Saul. They did not judge Saul according to the flesh, nor do they judge anyone that way. Even so, God and Jesus are not angry at the Taliban. And God and Jesus are not angry at you either. In fact, the One true God is not angry at anybody!
- God knows how to arrest everyone’s attention to get them to see the truth about His love and acceptance. If He did that for Saul/Paul, wouldn’t He do it for the “Taliban Dream Team”? Wouldn’t He do it for everyone? After all, God is impartial.
- God loved the world. And He still loves the world. If violent behavior is not beyond God’s love, then why would we think anything else would be either?
- God is Love. Love bears all things – even our misunderstandings of Him. Love endures all things. Love never fails. Truly love won at the cross. There was no ‘God anger or wrath’ at the cross, only reconciliation. (2Cor 5:19) Any anger that you think was there is man’s own anger. We were ‘enemies’ (Greek – hostile) in our minds. (Col 1:21) Ditch the anger mindset about God – it is a lie.