God Is Love|
Yet Vengeful, Angry,&Jealous?
Q. How can you say God is loving? Yet, the Bible also portrays God as vengeful, angry, jealous and violent - wiping out large groups of people just because they disobey him. In the real world we wouldn't esteem someone who was angry, jealous and violent, would we? If your own human father was like this you wouldn't feel like giving your will and life over to him, would you? Don't you think those qualities just reflect insecure religious leaders using fear as a means of obedience? (M.A.)
Those are great questions. Thanks for asking because we know that many of our readers have similar thoughts and feelings.
You are right. It does seem like many church leaders preach a message of hell-fire and damnation. They try to scare people into believing and behaving as they think they should. They teach a humanly jealous, angry God who maintains a coercive relationship with humans He barely tolerates.
On the other hand, there are many "prosperity preachers," too, who try to preach a God who is like a great Santa Claus in the sky. He just exists to fulfill their lusts for riches, fancy cars, successful careers and fame. Do you think that's right?
Of course, neither of those views is correct. They are just views taught by fallible men who have come to believe the bible teaches either a fire-breathing monster-type God or a luxury-loving sugar daddy in the sky.
There is a classic book written by a top-notch theologian called, Your God is Too Small, J.B. Philips. We recommend that all of our readers purchase this book for their library. It is available for around $3.00 used through Amazon.com.
In his pocket sized book, Dr. Philips notes that we tend to anthropomorphize God. An "anthropomorphism" means "an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics" (Webster 2001, 21). In other words, we try to make God just like us.
A God like Us?
But, God is neither a "cosmic policeman" nor a "divine grandfather." He is neither a "bellhop" nor a fire-breathing despot. Instead, our God is the majestic Creator who creates, controls and sustains a universe with trillions upon trillions of swirling galaxies. Can we even begin to understand this? Yet, He has also lovingly designed your very tiny, intricate, personal DNA:
"For You formed my
You wove me in my
I will give thanks to You,
For I am fearfully and
What holds the universe together? Scientists know that something keeps all of the atoms in the universe together - sort of like cosmic glue. Without it atoms and molecules would fly off in every direction. Nothing would hold together.
But, incredibly, the Bible tells us who and what this force is:
"For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:116, NASB).
The psalmist David wrote about the grandeur of the universe when he sang:
"When I consider Your
heavens, the work of
The moon and the stars,
which You have
What is man that You
Take thought of him,
And the son of man that
You care for him?"
Added to that, God has known about your personal life and recorded all of your days before you were even born!
"Your eyes have seen my
And in Your book were
The days that were
ordained for me,
When as yet there was not
one of them."
Puny Specks of Dust
I think the difficulty comes when we try to define God within our own framework - with our own terms and limited understanding. Just think of it: How would this gigantic, powerful force that controls billions upon billions of planetary systems and galaxies communicate with puny little specks of dust called "humans" on a rather small planet stuck way out at the furthest reaches of one little galaxy called the Milky Way?
God already tells us a little bit about how He thinks:
"My thoughts are completely different from yours,' says the LORD. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT).
We know that He isn't like us - His thoughts are entirely different from the way humans think. So how does a God like this communicate things to his created beings? How does He speak to men?
A Visited Planet
Some of the greatest minds in history have pondered this issue. C.S. Lewis, the famous Cambridge Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature, offers the thought that we are a "visited planet." In other words, the awesome God who sustains trillions of swirling galaxies came down to planet earth to "visit" his created beings.
He became one of His own Creations
Lewis says …God became a Man and lived as a creature among His own creatures… (Lewis 1996, 44). Of course, Lewis is speaking of Jesus Christ. So, if we want to get to know the God of the universe, we need to study the life of Christ. This is what the concept of the trinity is all about.
The God of the trillions of swirling galaxies became a human being for a short time on planet earth. During that time he explained to us what he wants us to do and believe. He explained to us that our biggest problem is death. However, He assured us we would be made alive again even after we die if we believe He is Lord who was raised from the dead.
Does that sound like a vengeful, hateful, jealous, angry God to you?
It doesn't to me.
Although I know that my Father wants my undivided attention and I shouldn't put other things before my devotion to Him, nevertheless, my loving, personal God died for my sins. A man has no greater love than this - than to give up his life for his friends. We know God is like this because Jesus Himself said:
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend…Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me" (John 15:13, 15, NLT).
That is my God. I encourage you to get to know Him, too, by learning about His Son. You can do this by reading His Word written for you.
To get started in doing this please obtain a modern translation of the Bible and begin to study about God's personal love-message written just for you.
You won't be sorry. It could change your life.
Lewis, C.S. 1996. The problem of pain. New York: Touchstone.
Philips, J.B. 1997. Your God is too small. N.Y.: Touchstone.
Strobel, Lee. 2004. The case for a creator, student edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.