When Love is Angry
We have all wrestled with the apparent tension between the wrath of God and the love of God. Some of that tension, however, may arise from our misunderstandings about anger in God.
The anger in God is an offspring of His love. Anger comes from love. Anger says, “I care enough about a thing that I will not sit idly by and do nothing.” On the other hand apathy comes from care-less-ness. It says, “I do not care enough about the issue to get my feathers ruffled.” Apathy is inertia in the face of someone’s need. If I love roses, I will be intolerant of weeds. If I love children, I will be furious at the abuse of them. If I love the poor, I will be angry with those who neglect their welfare.
But there is a caution needed. The anger in God is not temperamental; it is judicious. It is not God throwing a tantrum or simply venting. Anger is not a capricious emotion where God has lost His patience and has now become irritable. The anger of God is an outflow of His love of justice for all creatures. When we cry for justice, we are usually calling for revenge, but it is never that way with God. He seeks no revenge for crimes against himself. His anger does not flow from self-defense, but He will never cease to defend that which He loves.
Because God is just, He would never treat unjustly even the perpetrator of great crimes. He cares deeply about the abuser as He does for the abused, but love of both will cause Him to defend the weak against the strong. If God did not care for all, He would not speak so often in the scriptures in warning tones or threats to the wicked. But He loves the villain enough to warn them of His judgment and to offer them instead His healing forgiveness.
But because God loves us enough to die for us, He will also be angry against anything that damages us. And if we insist on being self-damaging, or damaging to another, we shall know His love as anger, and that will be sad both for ourselves and for Him.
Published in Light and Life, May-June, 2005