Words of Hope: Wrath
Our family recently listened to a sermon delivered on the wrath of God. If you cringe reading this, it was cringeworthy. The message was delivered in a one-hour yell, a screed full of blame, without self-reflection and self-responsibility. Shann, the girls, and I discussed this experience at length. I wish Dad and Mom were there to share this experience with us so that we could analyze it later.
We agreed with the understanding that God’s wrath exists. As C.S. Lewis’s mentor called it – – a feeling of creature dread in the face of God’s holiness. Wrath means righteous anger and indignation. One of the Psalms Dad and I memorized says, “God is a righteous judge and a God who has indignation every day.” There is no doubt that justice is required in the face of injustice. Ben Franklin says, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
But, we all agreed, wrath and justice become very tricky. Dad and I would talk often about this–how the most “deserving” of God’s wrath because of disobedience were exposed by Jesus as being the ones society called the most righteous.
It reminds me of something I read in C.S. Lewis’s book on prayer. He said the prayer you think is the most holy, the most righteous might be the one furthest from God. I think of this regarding God’s wrath especially when Jesus responds to those who say, “Lord, Lord, we did all these things in your name!” –Jesus casts them out saying, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” This wrath of Jesus is so troubling.
Some of the questions our family pondered after the sermon was, “Do we confuse our wrath with God’s wrath? Can we be calling down wrath on others which will lead to our own reckoning? How do we honor the truth of God’s wrath without living in dread or without being too cavalier? How does this notion of God’s wrath bring us closer to God and others rather than further apart?”
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1:18