The Well Community Church

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Is God Loving or Wrathful?

Posted February 27, 2012 Dave Obwald

For me growing up the idea that God could both love all people (John 3:16) (1 John 4:16) and that He also shows wrath toward them (Hebrews 12:28-29) was a really hard concept for me to grasp. So I think functionally I saw Him as having a split personality.

In my mind he was either a loving teddy bear type God that loved everyone and would never show wrath OR he was an angry God just waiting to fly of the handle when his creation stepped out of line. What I failed to realize was that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that a function of that love is that he is passionately opposed (wrathful) to the things that cause His creation harm. He is passionately opposed to the marring of his perfect creation. He is passionately opposed to us destroying ourselves and others.

This concept came to life for me the other day with my youngest daughter. She got a small splinter in the bottom of her foot while playing in the yard. She came in and showed us, but asked us to leave it alone and not touch it because it would hurt. We did and waited a day to see if it would come out on its own. By the middle of the next day that little splinter was now making it so that she could not walk properly and she had to miss out on her dance class. That little splinter was now starting to fester and puss in her foot and was leading toward causing her larger problems in the future.

Now we LOVE our daughter and needed to decide what was the most loving thing we could do for her. To leave it would have been easier, but we knew better because it was not going to get better without us intervining. So we sat her down and said we needed to remove it.

She pleaded with us not to because she knew it was gonna hurt. As we were heating up the needle she was pleading and squirming around asking if there was any other way... all we could do was assure her that we loved her and that it was gonna be better, but that that little splinter could not stay. I have never heard my daughter scream that loud (glad our neighbors houses aren't to close) as I held her down and my wife removed the splinter from her foot. It was so hard in the moment to have her look at me wondering why mommy and I were hurting her.Afterward she felt immediately better and to our delight she was dancing around the next day without any hinderance.

We were able to say to her and the other two kids, "See this is how God loves us. He loves us enough to be passionately opposed to the splitters in our lives and in this world and to get them out even if it hurts. You see I would and God would not be loving daddy if I would have left that splinter in your foot."

If we are honest we are just like my daughter with may splinters in our lives. I am becoming more and more thankful that God's wrath against sin in our lives and in the world around us. There is no other logical response for a loving father towards the things that will destroy us. The Lord continue to pursue the splinters in our life and world as a "consuming fire". As George MacDonald would say, "God's love loves us unto purity".