God Is Love
Some years ago, I was asked to watch a video of a sermon by a pastor acquaintance of mine, who served a church in the same small town as me.
The pinnacle of the sermon came when my pastor friend began railing against preachers who had "watered down the Gospel" and preached too heavily on the grace and mercy of God.
His view of God was not of a God filled with infinite and never-changing love. His view of God wasn't the view of God that Jesus shared of a loving, forgiving parent, who never gives up on us.
This pastor's view of God was of an angry deity, bent on wreaking vengeance upon all those who crossed Him, but mostly on people who didn't agree with this particular pastor.
Author and pastor Brian Zahnd recently wrote:
"Religious people generally like to be told that God is [angry, violent and retributive], as long as this divine disposition is primarily directed toward other people."Truth be told, I have a long list of people I secretly hope will one day bear the brunt of God's anger, because they sure as heck bear the brunt of mine. Even more truth be told, almost all of us have a similar list.
The writer of the New Testament book of 1 John wrote:
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."This description of God is the one that trumps all other descriptions. As Brian Zahnd puts it: "The wages of sin is death--but God is love. War is hell--but God is love. Violence is human--but God is love."
Because God is love we can know beyond all doubt that God's love extends to not only us, but everyone else as well. And the fact that God is love covers with grace and forgiveness all of our frail inability to love everyone else as we ought to love them.
If you have an angry, vengeful image of God--let that image go. Being a Christian truly means being rescued from wrong-headed notions of who God is and whom God loves.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.