Today I was able to go to my church here in DC that I love so much (theaterchurch.com) for the first time in a month.. and the first time since Easter with my roomie (we have both been pretty busy and traveling quite a bit..).. Plus a friend who recently moved to the area joined us.
This summer they are in "The God Anthology" and going through 9 attributes of God.
Along with the series the worship teams from the different campuses got together and wrote music to accompany the series which also touching on these 9 attributes of God, then later in the summer it has been set up to be recorded live with an all sites combined service.
Anyway, today Heather Zempel the Discipleship pastor spoke on God is Wrath. First, let me say she is one of my favorite speakers. She does a wonderful job blending humor, facts, explanation, and story telling to communicate her message. She blew me away today speaking on God is Wrath, even touching on the nervousness felt when describing the attributes of God we are not comfortable with, and the way in which we try to understand how the hundreds of attributes He has fit into our frame of mind. She eloquently pointed out that "The God of the Old Testament just seems angry, and a lot of Christians have this view that somewhere between Malachi and Matthew God got saved..." I, along with the entire crowd roared with laughter, but, the reality is.. that's kinda how it seems. Somewhere along the way God went from being a wrath-filled God to a loving God...
And then, she bridged the gap between the two seemingly opposing positions. She pointed out that we EXPECT God to have wrath when a child is abused, when a woman is sold into sex slavery, when people are wiped out due to the color of their skin or the region in which they were born.. That a wrath like reaction to a situation like that would only be fair. That the only thing that would be loving towards those innocents is to wreak havoc and wrath upon the ones doing the harming.. And in fact, if we do not see that wrath from God we feel almost immediately compelled to ask "How can a loving God LET THIS HAPPEN!?"......
At this point, she began unpacking the correlation between love and wrath. In order to have love, there has got to be wrath too. Wrath is the means by which love and grace are extended.
To further explain this point, she explained that in Genesis when Adam and Eve sinned, in order to extend grace and love to humans, God's wrath was first taken out on an innocent animal, but that Eve was given a name appropriate for her potential, not based on her mistakes...
"Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Genesis 3:20-21
This truth about wrath and love makes sense to me.. but I have never thought about it in this manner before... I am so intrigued.
She also pointed out that with almost every major natural disaster some person goes on national television and makes a statement similar to "this is God's wrath being poured out on these people because of their sin..." and then the rest of the Christian realm rebuttals with "No it's not!" To which she points out, God certainly DOES do that in the Bible.. so, it is possible. BUT.. We do not KNOW that to be the case. There is no way to say for sure what God was or was not doing in the midst of the disasters... What we DO know is that, God will use everything to be an avenue for redemption, grace, and love... And, in the end He will be glorified.
While I have never really contemplated the wrath of God, and how it plays perfectly into His love, grace, and mercy for us His children... I am very intrigued by this thought, because the wrath of God is all over the Bible... but so is love.. and grace.. and mercy.. and redemption... They swirl together in harmony in a way that I do not really understand completely, but am glad to have and be made aware of...