Most of us, even if we are not religious or believers in Jesus Christ have come face to face with the much too common mean and judgmental Christian. They are impatient, rude, and demonstrate a serious lack of compassion for people and their problems. They seem to have this idea that any problems people experience are the results of their own sin and therefore makes them deserving of whatever consequences came with it as if they themselves have never sinned. They see things from a very black and white perspective and seem to have made it their mission in life to exhibit God’s wrath and disgust of sin. We have all met, known, know, heard of, or even been one of these people at one point and time ourselves. These people easily cause confusion, skepticism, discouragement in and outside of the church even causing some to get the wrong idea about God entirely. Nevertheless, when we come across these types of Christians, not many people take the time to understand how they got that way. I mean seriously, how does a person who accepted the love and forgiveness that the Christian God offers turns around and becomes a walking embodiment of beliefs that contradict that? Well, the short answer is that they lack "supernatural balance." Of course, the long answer requires me to explain just what that means.
While it is in our design as beings created in God’s image to reflect His nature and character especially, after accepting Christ, usually we get hung up on reflecting smaller more manageable parts of His image and character without balancing it out with the rest of Him. This is not necessarily a bad thing because God is so big, brilliant, good, perfect, and simply beyond our human understanding that it makes sense that we would focus more so on the parts of Him that we seem to be able to understand at least. It is not that those people who try and reflect God’s hate for sin are inaccurate, it is that they are leaving out other parts of who He is.
While it’s true that God does hate sin and is capable of displaying a level of wrath that I hope I never see, He is also loving, kind, and long-suffering even in the same moment that He is angry. To the majority, if not all of us, this is very difficult to comprehend. We like and are comfortable with handling ideas and beliefs in a much more simplified way. Even when we understand that there are different and sometimes contradicting emotions, facts, and feelings at play, we subconsciously choose to highlight or focus in on one or maybe two of those things or principals while ignoring and even forgetting about the others. This is not to mention that our emotions can not only blind us but sway us toward the things that ultimately stand out to us as well as our own life experiences. When we come across things like a serial killer who goes to church or a pastor who struggles with lust, these things threaten, shake, and question, our understanding of God, the world, other people, and even ourselves. But they also do something very crucial to our attempt to understand things and bring order to our world-they intrude upon our ability to come up with definitive answers. So, it becomes essential that we paint things with a broad brush sometimes if for no other reason but to try and make some sense of it. It is when we can make sense of things even if it's not the truth, that we feel if but for a moment, stable and secure.
Our limited capacity to see or understand the full picture is also why many people struggle to see the true nature of God in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. It’s even why the Pharisees rejected Jesus and why the disciples struggled to understand his teaching. We look at David, who is known as one after God’s own heart, and struggle to fit that together with a man who not only committed adultery but murdered someone to cover it up. We also get a depiction of God who chose and used Moses in great ways, yet still denies him entry into the promised land. Most of all, we see Jesus who represents and proves God’s love for His creation, yet many people struggle with the concept that this same God will send many to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity.
Although, many of these things seem puzzling and are even used as evidence that the God of the Bible contradicts himself, what it actually reveals is a God that operates on a level so mysterious, complex, and foreign to us that we struggle to understand even the smallest of His actions and decisions. In fact, what we usually do in our efforts to understanding Him is to break Him down and hold tightly to the parts we can make sense of and that’s if we don’t just discard Him totally. In a nutshell, this is what angry Christians are doing. For some reason or usually some experience, they more easily understand and connect with God’s anger and wrath. However, this is only a piece of how God thinks and feels. In fact, unlike us, He knows, considers, thinks, and feels all things in every moment continuously.
When we break God down, we don’t understand how He can be angry but loving, stern yet merciful. How He can see our faults and fears, but also our strengths and potential. How he can see our sins, yet look past them. How He can care about our struggles, but sometimes not intervene; love us yet, allow some of us to burn. To us, these concepts and feelings are separate or simply don’t mix, but in God, all of these emotions, feelings, perspectives, and ideas exist at the same time and in the same moment without the slightest bit of confusion or contradiction. They have their purpose, place, play their own role, but work together in perfect harmony to achieve specific and life-giving objectives. You can see this somewhat exemplified in nature as the trees, insects, birds, animals, the sun, water, wind, and even bacteria, all work together simultaneously to achieve a cycle which enables life to flourish. The mind of God operates the similarly which is simply beyond our human understanding and why He simply asks us to trust Him instead of trying to get us to understand something that is impossible for us. Every move He makes, every action he takes, every decision He enforces is the result of a kind of mental calculation that sees, feels, and considers all things—past, present, and future. And this is what we lack and what it means to be “supernaturally balanced.”
When it comes to us, we easily cross the line between being wise into being proud, from being loving into not having boundaries. We struggle to be emotional but still logical, or even spiritually minded while still operating in a natural world. We sometimes don’t know how to hold a person accountable for their sins but at the same time forgive them; recognize their limitations but still nurture their potential. Instead, we put people and God in a box and label anything outside that box as wrong, foolish, or against God. Whatever box we create or lens we end up seeing Him through is incomplete and faulty at its inception because it is shaped by our limited view and experience of life which has more to do with our own shortcomings, wounds, hopes, and desires than it had to do with who God really is.
So how can we ever really know and understand God you ask? The answer is we can’t. It’s not possible. However, if we remain aware of our limitations, biases, and even our fears and always make a conscious effort to leave room for new information or a deeper understanding, we will have space to gradually grow in our understanding of God and therefore reflect Him and walk in His will more accurately. Additionally, as we recognize and come face to face with our short-comings is when we begin to embrace the depth and beauty of our humanity, and therefore recognize and appreciate it in others.
So, to angry Christians, Yes God hates sin, but He loves and is eager to forgive at the same time. And to passive Christians, Yes God does love everyone but still requires obedience to inherit His promises. For the rest of us who also have limited and biased views of God, there is no need to point the finger at anyone because it is when we come together in harmony with whatever piece of God we can understand that the full nature of God begins to unfold.
Stephanie Kekeocha was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). (read more)
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