“Or do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads us to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NASB).
The scene's all too familiar. Opposite sides square off and somehow the original issue gets lost in a screaming match. The two camps vehemently verbalize and nobody listens. Emotionally charged but physically drained both sides retire to celebrate a victory.
It's sad to see Christians enter these types of frays. Words of condemnation and judgment are unleashed with no thought of the consequences. Posters and placards warn of impending doom – God's mad, so watch out! The message is ignored, it's old news.
“Tell me something new, different and maybe I'll hear what you're saying.”
I bristle at the often cavalier use of the “J” word – judgment. To be clear, God does have defined standards. He isn't soft on sin nor turns a blind eye to it. He got so sick of it He settled the issue at the Cross. This word's been overused as a scare tactic for behavior modification. Have we forgotten Romans 2:4 altogether?
At one point in history, 100% of the earth's population broke 100% of God's commands simultaneously. Would it surprise you to learn that God didn't explode in anger and obliterate the scofflaws? Don't clobber me with you bible. Open to the second and third chapters of Genesis and read S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Adam and Eve, the sum total of earth's population broke the one and only law God gave them (and the Israelites thought they could keep 10). No matter how you crunch the numbers 100% is still 100%. Things may be out of control now, but percentage wise, not as bad as then.
How did God react? What He didn't do was lash out in anger. That word or any derivation of it isn't mention at all (another 100%). His initial response to Adam was, “where are you?” God knew exactly where he was – but did Adam?
Rather than annihilate, God protected his creation. Warned of the danger of disobedience God allowed the couple to suffer the consequences of their action. Their glory was gone so He covered their nakedness. In mercy, He blocked access to the Tree of Life.
We still attempt to avoid the reality that if we do as we please the results can be very uncomfortable. We pin misfortune and calamities on the “wrath of God.” Responsibility is deflected from us onto Him. He's the bad guy, not us.
The Righteous Judge is much slower with retribution than often portrayed. The events in the book of Revelation aren't those of a God with an itchy trigger finger. Take another look at the amazing patience and the restraint He exhibits in order to give as many the opportunity to repent.
So many, including Christians, have no idea that God has fixed the sin problem. Bombarded with words and pictures of an angry God, people aren't in any hurry to make His acquaintance.
If we want to tell people they're going to hell, we better have the ability to see into their future accurately. Sounds like something new age doesn't it? Who they are and where they're at right NOW isn't the end of their story. People can change. I have and so have countless more.
If you've benefited from God's kindness what can you do or say to help others experience it also? What avenues besides anger fueled confrontations might open people up to consider the truth that God loves them right where they are now? Wouldn't that be some real good news?