As I meditate on this passage, I find myself in flight once again. I love my job and travel is a big part of it, so I spend a fair share of time on planes and in airports, where almost without exception, the ugliness of mankind manifests itself. There is something about flying that brings out the ugliness and meanness of humanity.
I watch gate attendants and flight attendants take the brunt of cursing, anger, accusations, and sometimes violence because of some mistake or emergency that has inconvenienced a passenger. They are well trained to handle these situations and usually handle them with great finesse and tact. It bothers me that they would even need this kind of training, training to specifically prepare them for people who are rude and mean, particularly when this representative of the company has had in no way caused the problem. They are simply there to represent the company and to pacify and help resolve these issues.
Sadly, misguided passengers address their anger and frustration to the wrong people!
I believe Christians have also succumbed to a similar pattern addressing outrage, anger, resentment and prejudice with regards to sin, mistakenly taking a stand against sinners instead of seeing people sadly in the grips of a fallen and sinful world. The sin is what God was angry at, not sinners.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness: Romans 1:18 KJV
I sometimes wonder what God is really like. We know a lot about Him, but I can’t wait to meet Him. One thing I do know is that He will be far better than my simple mind could ever comprehend. But sometimes it is hard for me to picture God angry. Most of us have been conditioned that anger is bad, frankly because it is usually manifested in an unhealthy, ungodly manner.
But I love that when God gets incredibly upset, it’s not over frivolous things, but over sin itself. We don’t read someone sinned and God became angry with them. In fact, I picture this divine sadness God feels when the creation He designed succumbs to the sin in the world, coupled with a divine anger at that sin. This duplicity that He loves His creation and hates the sin, is in fact one of the greatest demonstrations of His love for His creation.
We on the other hand, get this confused far too often as Christ followers. We have difficulty drawing the distinction he does and combine our wrath into one. This wasn’t what God’s “wrath” was directed at, it was man’s “ungodliness and unrighteousness.” We must understand the difference. Not making this distinction has hurt the church’s relationship with the unsaved world and further alienates it.
I was recently thinking about a close friend of the family who is now transgender. He is not a believer, and so I expect non-believing behavior from Him. I can love Him and at the same time direct my anger at the sin that entangles him. I choose to believe that the demonstration of my love for him is where he will turn when his life turns out not like he thought it would. Instead of alienating him because he has become deceived and entangled in sin, I choose to love Him and hate the sin he is entangled in.
Paul has described for us an excellent reminder to show God’s love to our fellow man and still hate the sin they are entangled in, and to avoid the pitfall of our own temptation to sin through unrighteous, misdirected, misguided anger.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
President / CEO
August 30, 2022