How do I get the image of God as being angry out of my mind?
Some people think of God as a bully, a big kid on an ant hill laughing as he shines his magnifying glass on the insects. But this is not the God of the Bible. Sometimes we look at stories of God in the Old Testament and believe Him to be vengeful and angry. We think of Him as a task-master looking for any little mistake, a rule-maker who demands unquestioned obedience. We think God is out to catch us in sin. Yes, God is just, and He does have righteous wrath. Would we trust Him if He were not just? God is a God of order and absolute truth. But He is not the beast we sometimes make Him out to be. He is love and He is good. So how do we heal our image of God?
It is said that the best way to recognize a counterfeit is to know the real thing well. The best way to rid our minds of false ideas of God is to fill them with accurate depictions. And the best way to find out about God's character is to read the Bible.
In the Bible, we learn about a God who desired to create us. We see a God who spoke all of creation into existence and formed humankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26-28) with the very breath of His lips (Genesis 2:7). This same God provided companionship (Genesis 2:18-22) and purpose (Genesis 1:28-30). When man sinned, this God provided sacrifice and protection (Genesis 1:21-24). God then began unfolding His plan of restoration. God knew that humankind would sin, yet He chose to create. He knew the cost and plan of redemption before speaking anything into being. Yet He chose to create us, to pay the price so that we might have fellowship with Him. This is a God of love.
God did institute rules, and there are consequences for breaking God's laws. However, those consequences are meant to teach us what is good for us. God's laws are not arbitrary or made to make Him feel in charge (He spoke the world into existence; He does not have an ego problem or need our obedience in order to feel good about Himself). God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), but they are far better for us. The Creator knows His creation and knows what we need.
God is also a God of mercy and grace. Jonah, in the midst of His disobedience, declares that God is "gracious and compassionate … slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity" (Jonah 4:2 NIV). In fact, it is because Jonah knew that God is not angry and imposing that he did not want to preach to the Ninevites. Jonah did not think the people were deserving of grace, and he knew that God would be willing to forgive.
We also see God being deeply personal and caring. What could be more personal than the Psalms? David and the other psalmists found God to be accepting when they poured out their hearts to Him. They sometimes questioned where God was in the midst of their hardships, yet they never failed to find reason for praise.
God is a God who speaks to His people. The books of the prophets show many of God's revelations to His people. He desires to be known by us. That is not what an imposing or angry God would want.
In the New Testament, we see this God of love even more clearly. We find out how the Old Testament sacrificial system is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. We see love at its height – Jesus dying in our place. We learn that God is willing to sacrifice Himself in order to gain us. We find out that we are given abundant life (John 10:10), that we are children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and that Christ deeply desires to be with us (John 17:24).
"God is love" (1 John 4:8). He is not angry and imposing to anyone but those who stubbornly reject Christ. He is desirous of relationship with us (jealous) and willing to do what it takes to restore us to right relationship with Him. These are but a few examples of the goodness of the character of God. The Bible holds many more.
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