God isn't Angry, God Never Was Angry: A Call to Reclaim Our Story

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, an omnipotent, all-powerful deity created everything. Let's call that deity "The Dude" for the sake of clarity. The Dude made creatures that had an essence of His consciousness, and a power unlike any other to shape the world they lived in. Let's call these creatures "peeps." The Dude made peeps with Power, Freedom and Self-Expression. Peeps and The Dude had an open relationship that was whole and dynamic. The Dude would even show up and walk with Peeps. Peeps were perfect, and everything was good, until peeps used their power, freedom and self-expression to do the bad thing. After peeps did the bad thing, nothing was the same. They offended The Dude, and their relationship changed. The Dude couldn't abide the bad behavior of the peeps, needing to keep his cosmic space clean. Peeps couldn't talk or walk with The Dude. The Dude became distant and withdrawn, only showing up occasionally to try to help the peeps not screw up so bad. The peeps kept screwing up. The peeps killed each other, did bad things and never quite listened to The Dude. Eventually The Dude had to take matters into His own hands, so He killed His Son, Little Dude. Little Dude became a peep, lived a perfect life like peeps were supposed to, and then was killed so that The Dude didn't have to be angry anymore. After the death of Little Dude, peeps could once again have a relationship with The Dude. Today, any peep can choose to have a relationship with The Dude if they believe that Little Dude died for them. If they don't choose to acknowledge that story, The Dude will be a mixture of sad and angry and will burn them forever. The Dude doesn't want to do this, The Dude wants to see all peeps be His friends, but because of the rules he created for Himself and peeps and all of life, The Dude will burn all the peeps that don't become His friends. For the peeps that choose The Dude, they get to live forever and party while everyone else burns. Because the peeps that choose The Dude know this, they try to convince as many peeps as possible with two things: First, that the story they are telling is true, and second, that they can have a relationship with The Dude so they don't burn forever. Some peeps are convinced, some aren't. Some are saved and party, some burn. The end.

Sound familiar?

You probably got the story, it was pretty thinly disguised. This is the story that many Christians tell and live, and there are a few problems with this story:

  • The Dude in his infinite wisdom and foresight creates a game where there are winners and losers, fewer winners than losers, and the losers burn alive forever. 
  • The Dude, who is supposed to be all-powerful, is apparently limited in His power to change the outcome of His sad game.
  • The Dude isn't angry, but is angry, then has His anger appeased, but is still angry. 
  • The Dude sacrifices His Son to appease His anger (even though that doesn't totally work). 
  • The Dude has made a situation where the bad is more powerful than the good, and where the bad things that peeps do have more to do with shaping the world and the afterworld than the good work of Little Dude. 
  • Many peeps have this idea that this is the true story, the whole story, and they have to convince people to 1) acknowledge the truth of this story 2) accept this story for themselves. 
  • The peeps power and freedom seems to be greater than that of The Dude. 
  • The awesome Dude/peep Little Dude and the stuff that he does is supposed to be this dramatic reversal of the cosmic game, but fails to even save MOST peeps, and The Dude is still sad and angry. 

Wherever you see "The Dude," replace it with God. Replace Little Dude with Jesus, and peeps with human beings. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, we have created a story about God/Jesus/human beings that is a violent, losing story for all but a few, and where God is a monster, a worse parent than most human real-life parents I know. This gives me pause, and leaves me with some questions.

Where is the LOVE in this story? Where is the POWER in this story? Where is the victory in this story?

If God has wrath (punitive anger) that needs to be appeased, why wasn't the death of Jesus ENOUGH to get God off of our backs and save people from hell?

Is or isn't God angry?

Are we just projecting our own violence onto God?

Couldn't God do better than this?

Can't we do better than this?

This story is full of contradictions, and hardly does justice to a God who is characterized in Jesus as being divine nonviolent love. Instead, this is a tribal god who better represents the pagan gods of old, driven by anger, the need for sacrifice, retribution and death.

Here's the truth: God isn't angry. God was never angry. Jesus' death on the cross wasn't to satisfy the wrath of God, it was to satisfy the wrath of PEOPLE. Jesus shows us what God looks like, and it is the incarnation of self-sacrificial, courageous, dignifying LOVE. 

Jesus laid down his life to reveal the violence lodged in the heart of humanity. Jesus laid down his life to reveal the character of God. Jesus exposed the Powers and Principalities to us in a moment of time, and we with the Powers have been trying to cover over the hard truths of that story ever since. Jesus didn't save us from God, he saved us from ourselves, and invited us into a new way of being, nonviolent love.

Maybe we can't deconstruct all our contradictions at once, maybe it is too much to ask for us to renounce our own evil and violence instead of projecting it onto God and others. Maybe we need time. Maybe we need to move slow. Maybe.

But this story, the good news, means enough to me that I want to share it. 

This is a call to reclaim our story. To hear the good news again, and to repent. The challenge is we have missed the message, and it's a hard pill to swallow. 

God isn't angry, we are, and that's good news. 
Benjamin FaderComment