Ask 100 people what they think of God and you will get 100 different answers. But behind a majority of those answers (for those who acknowledge God exists) you might find a whole lot of fear. And I’m not talking about awesome reverence. It’s more like the fear someone covered in honey has of an angry, hungry bear. Many people think of God as angry and vengeful. And for anyone struggling with addictive behaviors, this fear is usually times ten.
I spent much of my childhood and early adult years living in fear of this angry God. I believed that every time I messed up (sinned) that God was shaking His head in disgust (at best) or lining up a lightning bolt to finally take me out (at worst). As a result of this view of God, I obviously never felt close to Him, nor did I want to approach Him. After all, who runs toward the hungry bear?
First, God is not like us. The Bible tells us that His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts too (Isaiah 55:9). He is perfect, flawless, sinless, not bound by time or space. He is Creator, Judge, Redeemer. He chose to make humans in His image, bearing a sense of His character and creativity. He did not create out of need, but rather out of His desire to share; He is a giver, lover, friend. He does feel anger, but He doesn’t process it like we do. When one begins to understand just how “other” God is, the perspective through which we understand His actions can change.
For instance, when we see human beings get angry, we see all sorts of resulting behaviors that are unhealthy and unhelpful. This is because human anger drives us toward self-pity; our desires were blocked, so we feel angry and then behave in ways that hurt others to try and regain our power and achieve our agenda. And most of our anger is unjustified, meaning it isn’t based on moral law or the greater good of humanity. It’s more like a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum because someone took their toy away.
When God feels angry, His perspective is perfect, just, and always with mankind’s best in mind. He is a good Father, but even more than that — He is the definition of Life. When God made Adam, He breathed into his nostrils and the man became a living being. Apart from God, we cannot exist. Since He is the central element to life, He is the absolute authority on its best function. When human beings look to anything or anyone else for life, this is offensive to God. But God’s anger isn’t like someone pouting because they didn’t get picked for the team. His anger is righteous, justified. But His actions when angry might surprise you; they are borne of love, leading us to fullness of life.
We tend to think of all anger as leading to punishment. For instance, if you’re angry you have a right to hurt someone. Anger justifies malicious behavior. Now, a lot of us would quickly deny this out of our desire to not be perceived as cruel. But it’s still true. Human anger seeks to destroy. But God’s anger isn’t destructive, it is corrective, like a father training his son to live rightly. And God’s anger isn’t seething, ever present under a guise of good will and kindness. He feels it, He deals with it, and He reminds us of His love. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
You might be thinking, “But your title of this article says God isn’t mad at me. How is He not mad at me if He is capable of all this anger?” God’s attributes are not weighed on a scale. He is fully 100% of all His attributes at all times. So, His justice isn’t greater or lesser than His love or mercy or grace. His omnipresence isn’t greater or lesser than His omnipotence. So when He feels angry, it doesn’t overpower any of His other attributes. This is why His expressions of anger are not destructive, rather they are corrective. His entire motivation for ALL His interactions with humanity is LOVE! (John 3:16)
My understanding of this concept of God’s love overshadowing all His decisions really grew when I had children. Certainly, no human analogy could ever fully encompass the infinite expanse of God’s love for us, but parenthood does give a dim shadow of this phenomenon. I love my children. I want the best for them. I would give my life to protect them and provide for them. Love is the guiding principle of my decision-making when it comes to training up my children, even when it is necessary to discipline them for disobedience. The discipline isn’t for the sake of punishing them or withdrawing my love. Quite the opposite. It is because I love them that I correct them in their error or rebellion.
God loves you — more than you could comprehend. No matter how far you have wandered away from Him, or how vehemently you have denied Him, He has never wavered in His love for you. He is faithful, both to remind you of His affection for you and to correct you when you stray. But He never wags His finger at you in shame or with malicious intent. His goal is that you experience the fullness of life, to know Him (the Author of life) intimately. He is the perfect Dad, always desiring closeness with His children and the best He has to offer. Maybe it is time you stopped hiding from the false angry god of your own making, and instead crawl up into the lap of your heavenly Father whose caring eye is ever on you. If you do, you might just discover that perfect Love casts out fear, and that the real God is better than you ever imagined…