I once watched a lecture from a well-known university. Although the subject had no direct connection with theology, the Professor decided to venture there anyway. He advocated that the god of the Old Testament was a god of Anger and Judgment and that the god of the New Testament is a god of Love and Mercy. I’m not certain where his information came from, but many modern Christians seem to agree with him.
Despite many voices calling for a softer-gentler god for our generation, they are missing the truth about God’s nature. The same can be said of those who postulate a god who is always looking for someone to kill – Trust me, if He wanted to kill you, you would be dead. God has perfect aim.
The challenge partially stems from our desire (and need) as humans to distill everything in our lives down to something we can categorize and explain. There is no end to the lists and labels we use to neatly organize our very complex world. Despite our attempts to make God simple and understandable, He defies our labels. Let’s face it, most of us are still trying to get a grasp on the complex personalities of our spouse and other family members. Why do we think we can fit God in a nice neat box?
Even though God is infinitely complex, He does give us insight into His nature through His relationship with us and previous generations. He also gives us understanding of His future plans and His expectations. He does all of this in His Word.
In the Old Testament, God gently and faithfully called His people. He told them what they could expect from Him and what He expected from them. When they obeyed, all was good. When they rebelled, things got messy. Even then though, God, in His great mercy, gave them many opportunities to turn things around.
In the New Testament we see the powerful love story of God sending His only Son to die for our sins. Still, even in the New Testament we see the limits of God’s patience. For Ananias and Sapphira who surpassed those limits, it meant instant death right in the church. For the hard-hearted city of Jerusalem it meant destruction of the city and the temple nearly 40 years after Jesus rose from the grave and returned to Heaven. Paul is clear in Romans 1 that the wrath of God IS being revealed. In other words, God’s judgment is still around in the New Testament and for us today.
We need to quit playing games and conjuring up gods that suit our hard-hearted desires. I fear that those who believe that God’s grace and love – despite their rebellion and disobedience -will one day awaken to find they have missed Jesus completely.
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” – Rom 11:22 NIV
I beg you, don’t let that happen.