“My experience of His furious love often fills me with a fury as well when I hear well-known preachers and televangelists distorting Abba’s image.”
“His invitation to intimacy is startling, contrary to all the pontifications of certain religious leaders and champions of deuteronomic morality. Their unbending rule-keeping petrifies His furious compassion.”
– Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
As an extreme example of rejecting a message that does not work, the testimony of Nate Phelps, son of Fred Phelps is truly heartbreaking. The tragedy he experienced because his father distorted the nature and image of God has haunted me since I read the speech he addressed to the American Atheists.
Yes, this is an extreme example, but there are so many subtler distortions.
At men’s group the other night (which has been opened up to women and is currently meeting at my house), in a discussion about suffering, someone mentioned that it was reassuring to know that every awful thing that happens to us is within God’s will.
I considered letting it slide. I tried to talk myself out of commenting.
But I had to say, “Evil is never a part of God’s will for us.”
“Are you saying that God isn’t sovereign over everything? How can anything that happens under His sovereignty be evil?”
“Sickness, pain, disaster – yes these things are evil. They are a result of sin and the fall. The corruption that resulted from the fall is evil.”
“So you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God?”
“I don’t believe that the fall and the evil that resulted caught Him by surprise. He had a plan in place from the beginning to overcome sin, death, and evil. That plan has already been implemented and is in effect even now. While we still experience the results of the fall, ultimately there will be total and complete freedom from the evil in this world.”
“So you don’t believe that God is sovereign over everything?”
Aye, aye, aye.
People worry that by emphasizing the love of the Father, we somehow fail to portray the complete nature of His holiness and judgment. Yet, I don’t believe that God’s judgment is separate from His love. It is because of love and through love that sin, darkness, and evil are overcome and God moves things toward the way they were always intended to be.
Most people don’t need to be convinced of their alienation from God. This seems to be the distortion that we are born into. That is why the message of His love is so important to overcome an already distorted image of the Father and enable us to see Him as He really is.