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Is God Loving - Or Angry?

February 12, 2011

Is God loving or angry? Seems like a strange title for something in Who Gets The Credit. But that's where it goes.

It's actually a message that I gave for a group that included both Christians and non-Christians. So there's something in it for both.

Since it was a live talk - and I used some of the things in the room as "props" - aids for making a couple of the points - I need to set up those things for you before getting into it.

First - there was a piano in the room. I don't know if it was a grand - baby grand - but it was at least that style. And it was very well kept up.

Second - there were several doors in the room. I was planning on using two of them - and pointing to them to illustrate something. As it turns out, the Pastor's wife made two really nice cardboard doors - drew in the panels and everything. One said "Angry God" - the other said "Loving God".

With that information - here it is.

Is God loving – or angry?

That’s a question that lots of people would like to know the answer to.

Many people have heard of the famous verse from John 3:16. It says

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God loves us so much - if we believe in His Son Jesus, who died on the cross to save us - then we will live with Him forever in Heaven.

That certainly sounds extremely loving.
But then we do often hear about God being angry. Where does that come from?

One example would be from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, in chapter 1, starting at verse 18:

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

Ro 1:19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

Ro 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Ro 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

So God is angry because He should be obvious to us but many of us don’t see Him or give thanks to Him.
That doesn’t sound so loving.
Maybe we are too busy - maybe we are too interested in ourselves - maybe we just don’t care. There are many reasons why people don’t see God around them, but the result is the same - if we don’t See God – we can’t give Him thanks.

So how can we reconcile these two things? Which one is He – loving, or angry?
Or maybe He’s both?
And how do we know what He really feels towards us?
Can we know?
And what if we could know?

Let’s start with – what if we could know.
If we could know that when we leave this room, the angry God is right outside one door, <point to the door on the left> and the loving God is outside the other door, <point to the door in the back> how many of us would intentionally choose to go out the door with the angry God on the other side?

We’d want to go out the door to the loving God.

But – how can we know which door leads to the loving God?
How do we know whether our lives are on a path to the loving God or the angry God?

Before going too much into this I want to be clear that there is only one God.
It’s just a question of whether we are taking a direction with our lives that will lead to Him being angry with us.
I’m going to talk about a loving God - and an angry God - but it is one God - with two possible reactions to what we do with the life He gave us.

The key here is that God’s qualities – although invisible – can be clearly seen.
That’s what Paul writes in Romans, but how can that be possible?
How can we see the invisible?
Because if we can know what God’s qualities are - if we can begin to know something about Him - we can know which door we are walking towards - the one with the loving God - or the one with the angry God.

That may sound confusing, so let’s look at an example.
Consider the piano behind me.

If I was to sit down and play it – it wouldn’t sound that good.
But if a world famous piano player came in here and played we’d all think it sounded incredibly good. We would be impressed with the way it sounded. But - being impressed with their playing could just be about the person, the practice time, all the work they put in.
What about God?
Did God have anything to do with it?
Are we ignoring Him by just focusing on the person?

We need to see if there are some invisible qualities of God related to that person playing the piano.

For instance – the ability to play that well. That’s a gift from God. And, it’s a gift whether the person is a Christian or not. To ignore that the gift is from God is to not give Him glory or thanks.
In simpler terms - it’s not giving God credit.
Without the gift of talent for playing so well no one would have enjoyed listening, because it’s that gift from God which makes the person a world famous pianist – as opposed to sounding just like I would when I played.

Is there more?
Are there more invisible qualities of God that we can see in the piano?

What about the song itself?
The ability to write beautiful music – that’s another gift from God.

Can you think of anything else? Are there even more qualities of God in this piano?

What about the piano itself?
Playing a piano that well is amazing enough. Writing the music that someone else learns to play seems even more amazing. But think about the first person that actually thought of making a piano. What a gift from God is that? What was Bartolomeo Cristofori thinking back in 1698 when he built the very first piano? Imagine being the one to come up with a whole new instrument. Especially one like the piano – so complex.
Most people probably don’t know who invented the piano. I didn’t until I looked it up last week.
How many of us think about giving God credit for it? And yet – the ability to design and build it was a gift from God.

There are most likely many more ways to see the hand of God in that piano. But I believe the point is made with those three examples.

So – how do we move from recognizing God in a piano – giving Him credit for it in many different ways – to believing in Jesus and having eternal life?

As Paul writes in Romans – our thinking becomes futile and our hearts become darkened – because we don’t see God around us and therefore don’t give Him credit – don’t give Him the glory that He deserves.

What Paul is saying here - is that because we refuse to see God in everything around us even things that we see every day - God makes it harder for us to see Him at all.

While the passage in Romans seems very unloving – and is actually titled “God’s wrath against mankind” in the NIV translation of the Bible – it is also very loving.
How can that be?
It’s loving because It provides us with a map of sorts.
Not an ordinary paper map. And not a Google map. But still a map.

Think back to the two doors – one with the angry God – the other with the loving God.
The question was, how do we know which door is the one we want?
Paul tells us in Romans.
The angry God is outside the door that we choose when we refuse to see God around us. The loving God is outside the door that we choose when we do see God around us – and give Him the glory for what He has done - when we give Him the credit.

For those of us who are Christians – our task is to help those who are not yet believers. To start off with, that may be something as simple as helping others to recognize those invisible qualities of God that Paul writes about. there, as we seek to learn more about God, we all travel on the path to knowing Jesus – towards the eternal life promised in John 3:16.

Jesus Himself – when asked what we are required to do by God, replied in John 6:29. He said -

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Going back to the example of the two doors - when we choose that door with the loving God on the other side – when we choose to see God around us - acknowledging Him and giving Him credit – we are taking the first step to knowing Jesus.

And then we are on the way to being one of those that John wrote about -

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

When I study the Bible and especially when I write I like to listen to Christian music. When I was doing some revisions on what I was going to say today a song came on called “I Choose”. And that’s what this is all about - Choosing.
God give us free will -
He lets us decide what to do with our lives
whether we see Him –
or ignore Him.

In the end –
If we choose to ignore Him - We’ll end up seeing the angry side of God.

If we choose to see Him - to give Him credit for all that He has done - we’ll see the loving side of God - One that’s so loving we can’t even imagine.

I choose the loving side of God –

And pray that all of you do as well.