BEFORE THE FINAL, formal blessing at the end of our church’s Sunday morning service, one of the leaders will sometimes say something along the lines of: “God is not mad at you. He loves you, and has good things for you.”
It’s a sweet reminder that the heart of the gospel is God’s tender heart toward us—that Christianity isn’t about striving to reach a standard that’s always going to be beyond us, but resting in the assurance of His love for us in our imperfection and brokenness. But it’s not the whole picture.
Actually, God does get ticked at us sometimes. Not because He’s grumpy, but precisely because He is so loving.
There’s this idea floating around parts of the evangelical church that when the Bible talks about God being angry, it’s only with unrepentant sinners who have rejected Him (and so deserve all they’ve got coming to them!). Once you’re following Jesus, this thinking goes, you’re pretty much just in His good books.
Not according to Scripture. Jesus loved the twelve disciples, but He didn’t give them a pass on everything. When they tried to stop someone bringing a small child to Jesus to be blessed, “he grew angry” (Mark 10:14), according to the Common English Bible.
Most other translations render the reaction as His becoming “indignant,” which sounds so much more reasonable—but is really just a more polite way of saying angry.
Jesus loved the little children, and His anger was toward those who were not treating them as He wanted. Let’s face it: If He didn’t get bent out of shape by the fact that the children were being denied what He wanted for them, He wouldn’t truly have been loving.
Reading this passage recently, I realized that Jesus’ anger wasn’t evidence of His lack of love for His disciples, but His being full of love for others as well. His displeasure (with the disciples) was a measure of His love (for the little ones).
It made me wonder, Have I made Jesus angry recently by the way I have treated someone poorly?
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