We really struggle to understand God. And that’s to be expected, given how small we are. Yet, that fact doesn’t make our struggle less frustrating.
In our struggle, it’s really easy to overemphasize an aspect of God’s character to the exclusion of other aspects of his character. The result may be a bit more emotionally satisfying. But far less real, and in the long run, less helpful.
Two of God’s attributes that people argue about: His love and his wrath. Some overemphasize the wrath of God–you come away wondering what His problem is. Why does God always seem so angry?
Others overemphasize His love–by saying that His love eliminates his wrath and unconditionally accepts us just as we are.
The truth is that His wrath is an expression of his love. We use the term “mamma bear” to describe the protective love a mother has for her child. When it’s not present, we wonder if something is wrong with the mother–doesn’t she love her kid?
If you’ve been frustrated by this–if you’ve been burned by one side or the other–your story is common. It’s the result of well-intentioned but sloppy reactionary theology.
The way back on the road are to find examples where love and wrath are well integrated. Because that’s exactly what we find in the Bible in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
Still too abstract? C.S. Lewis uses a Lion to help us imagine what Jesus is like. What God is like. Powerful. Good. Loving. Wise. Merciful. Just. Huggable. Terrifying. Whispering. Roaring. Warrior. Peace maker.
“Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”…
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver….”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, 75-76.