Start by reading Ephesians 4:17-32
So we’re on the second post of our discussion of anger. Last time we started off by talking about how God gets angry. That’s okay. It happens. that’s okay. God does in fact does get angry. Is, because we are created in God’s image. we’re going to get angry too. That’s okay. it is a part of who we are. Its not wrong, it’s not a sin. It’s not something to be concealed, or put down, or push away, or kept out of sight out of mind. It is a part of who we are. Now that being said, anger, like anything else, can be bad. It can be used badly it could be purposeless it can be dangerous it could be damaging. It can be hurtful, it could be all those things that we fear the most about it, if we’re not careful.
So we have to be careful in how we use our anger. We want to make sure that it does not take over our lives. In order to get to that, we have to understand why God gets angry. That’s were we are for this post. We’re going to be looking at why God gets angry. In the next post we’re going to look at the difference between why God gets angry and why we get angry, then look at how we can process and respond in good and healthy ways. The intent is for all of this to help us live good and healthy lives, using our anger in ways that build up instead of tearing down.
So why does God get angry?
We have a difference between what we see as God getting angry, and what God really gets angry about. We focus a lot on the stories where God lets his wrath show and where he destroys things because of it. This is the old testament God. It gives us a very specific view of what happens. He is destructive. So when God is angry–things go boom. .
We start off in Genesis. In that regard, Adam and Eve got lucky. They just got kicked out of the garden when God got angry with them. For that matter Cain got off fairly well too. He still kept his life, but he had to wear the mark of Cain for the rest of life, and no one could kill him. But then we get to Noah, and, as the story goes, the known world of the time was flooded and only Noah and his family were left. Then we get to the tower of Babel. What really happened was that God just confused their language, but the way we always seem to think about it is that God smites the tower and it crashes to the ground. Then we have Abraham and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. And Moses and the Plagues, and the parting of the sea. Then we have the Kingdom of Israel that gets split into the norther and southern kingdoms, and first the north is destroyed, and then the southern kingdom and with it the temple is destroyed.
But we aren’t immune from this in New Testament times. We don’t hear to much about destruction in the New Testament, but the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the rebuilt temple, was a huge blow. And you could say that that was God doing it. But with the New Testament, you can’t forget about the biggest one of them all. We have the book of Revelation which tells of the end of the entire world!!!
The whole Bible seems to be full of crumbling walls that we have to do something with. We are presented with a God that seems to love destruction and tearing things down. But that’s our problem. We focus on this kind of God, but that’s not who God really is, and that’s not the point of his anger. His anger is much different from that. That’s us projecting our desires for God’s anger, but it’s not God.
You see, the problem is that, because of our focus on that kind of anger, we’ve done a lot of damage. And we have a lot of folks that have a hard time reconciling the God we read about in the Old Testament with the God that we find in the New Testament. We’ve done a lot of damage because we project our anger onto what we want God to be angry about. One of the side effects of that is that we also haven’t learned how to deal with our anger very well. We see this every time we read about, or watch on the news, as another Christian says or does something that is damaging and hurtful. We’re our own worst enemy, and one of the reasons for that is because of our misplaced understanding of God’s anger.
This is what our reading was getting at. Only, we’re even worse off. We just don’t get it. Verse 17 says that they (and the writer was referring to the gentiles) just don’t get it, they live their lives on pointless thinking. For us, we’re worse. We’re supposed to get it, but we still, stubbornly choose not to. That’s not what we’re supposed to do.
So what is it that God gets angry at? Again, our reading gets at this. We’re supposed to use what we have for better things, and change so that we aren’t doing damage. And we’re reminded that we’ve been given a lot through the gift that Jesus gave us. How bad is it of us when we don’t do the same for others?
This is the covenant that we’re talking about here. The covenant that God first made with Abraham, and was reinforced time and again through so many others. Or, if covenant isn’t a word that you use on a regular basis, and really there aren’t many people that do, you can think of it like a contract. But what ever way you think of it, it structures our lives and guides us. Jesus stated it most clearly when he was asked about the greatest commandment.
He said it was, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your being. And there is a second like it, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. On it rests all the law and the prophets.”
God gets angry when the covenant is broken. Notice who it is that God gets angry with the most? It’s not the Romans in the New Testament. Its not the prostitutes and tax collectors. Even in the Old Testament, its not the people who didn’t really know him. No, God gets angry, really and truly angry, with the people who should have known better. The people who knew about the Covenant. Ask yourself what God does to Saul when he breaks the covenant. Pharoah had been warned and told what was going to happen, and he didn’t listen. The people around Noah had heard him tell what was going on, they should have known. So many who should have known, and they’re the ones who God got angry at.
And this fits with the first few chapters of what Paul writes in Romans. Paul talks about how the people who didn’t know wouldn’t be held to the same standard as the ones that did. We lose this so often. Or, even worse, because we know, and we believe that everyone else should know just who God is, and who Jesus is, that that somehow means that they do know and believe in God, and therefore its our right to judge them.
That’s not the point, and that has done so much damage. God doesn’t get angry at the people who don’t know. God gets angry as those of us who do. And why is that? Because we break the covenant. We get in the way of other people being able to see God, and know God. We let our own expectations of God’s anger, and what God is doing get in the way of who God really is. God gets angry at us.
But, before you think that its all doom and gloom. We remember, that God also has infinite paitnece and love. If we are earnestly trying to know him, and trying not to make him angry, and trying not to break teh covenant, and trying not to turn others away from God, then we’ll be okay. Even when we mess up, God is still there for us. That’s the great secret to all of this.