I like this controversial title, so I think I'll stick with it. Before I tell you how I came to the above mentioned conclusion, I wanted to take an opportunity to rave about the unending goodness of God towards myself and all humanity.
This past week I feel as though I have received an intravenous shot of truth that has devoured any remaining traces of religiosity and futile striving in my life. I have been like a giddy, love-sick teenager, drunk with adoration and brim-full with joy unspeakable. The good news tends to have this effect on all victims that it grabs a hold of. I am fully convinced that the Gospel has a life of it's own and that it is daily getting better and better. Every time I hear it, it feels like the first time. Born again, again. First love jitters.
The theme song of my life this week has been "He is so good. He is better than I could imagine." As I have been drinking the Gospel, straight up, with no additives, I realize all the more that this is the best of news. This is not news that you want to keep a secret. No way am I sweeping this one under the rug. This news belongs on the busy street-corners. It deserves to be yelled from the rooftops.
A preacher I love once said "when I get to heaven, if there is anything I want to be accused of, it would be that I made God out to be better than he actually was." I love this. And if raving about his goodness is a crime, then I am guilty as charged.
Recognizing truth has been a lesson I've been schooled on lately. With thousands of streams and branches of Christianity intertwined everywhere, I'd say that knowing how to separate truth from non-truth or 'half-truth' is a vital tool to have on your Charismatic belt. Good thing truth is a person and spending time with Him, makes seeing Him everywhere second nature to us. Whenever the truth is proclaimed, I feel as though Jesus himself has stepped into the building, probably because he has. His spirit rides on the words of truth for the substance of truth is Jesus. After all, he did call himself "the way, the truth and the life."
One truth that has knocked me off my horse this week is that He has never been angry with us.
When I heard this spoken, my brain jumped into action recalling stories of wrath laced throughout the Old Testament, while my heart sat comfortably in it's arm chair, not batting an eye-lid, knowing that truth himself had just been breathed into the room.
"If he was never angry with us, even while we were sinners" my brain protested "then please explain the countless scriptures of wrath in the Old Testament."
Am I saying that God had no wrath? Of course not. His wrath was as real as his love. But that's just it, his wrath was an extension of his love. We were not the object of His wrath, but the sinful nature that once occupied us was the worthy recipient of all the fury of God, and rightfully so. In his intense love for us, He saw how sin abused and molested his beloved children and he burned hot with rage against it. He hated sin so much, that he stopped at nothing, not even his own death, to abolish it forever.
Jesus clothed himself in humanity, succumbed to torture, humiliation and even death in order for him that knew no sin, to become sin for us, therefore satisfying God's wrath.
As Jesus hung on the cross, he was not merely an example of humanity, but our substitute. In every way, he became like us, in order for us to become like him. It was a divine exchange, one for another. He allowed himself to be tempted, he knew human limitations, he got tired, his body needed food, in every way, he was just like us. In the same way, upon the cross as he cried out "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus had climbed into the emotional state of a human being in order to witness with us in every way. Had God forsaken Jesus upon the cross? Not according to Psalm 22:24 "For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but was heard when he cried to him."
In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5:19 it says "For God was IN Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting man's sins against them."Where was God when nails were being driven into the tender flesh of Jesus? He was INSIDE him. As Jesus cried out to God upon the cross, it was as if he had stepped fully into the state of a human being who was alienated from God in their mind. As he hung on that tree, the sins of the world weightily piled upon him, he was able to witness with the mind of a man who knows he is sinful.
The key to unlocking this is the truth that sin never separated God from us, but it did separate us from God. Rewind back to Eden. Our forefathers, now conscious of their fallen state, run, hide, from the God that is everywhere. Does God fear nearness to them as if their state will contaminate His? No. We see a loving father come and find his hiding children. You see, their sin didn't keep God away from them, but it prevented their conscience from allowing them confidence before His Holiness.
In Colossians 1:21, Paul says "Once you were all alienate in your MINDS because of your evil behavior." God's wrath didn't alienate us, our sin-conscience did.
The good news is, Jesus skillfully through his broken body and shed blood sprinkled clean our conscience and gave the boldness before the Father that was lost in the garden. No longer do we hide in the bushes covered in the blood of bulls and goats (our own attempts at holiness that could never justify) but we stand in the wide open spaces of his saving grace, knowing that he never was, nor ever will be angry with us. God is love, and all his affections are for us. Our shame and hostility of mind before the throne was what he murdered upon the cross. Who we once saw as a punisher, we now see as a loving father, empty of wrath towards his children as our eyes and minds have been cleansed by the spilt blood of His son.