Is God Angry At You?
I’ve observed the way in which God has been portrayed by the Westboro Baptist Church and particularly by their “God Hates Fags” campaign. The Westboro Baptists have the perception that God is angry at a lot of people. I have friends who’ve come to know a very different God. I’ve been trying to understand how it is that we’ve come to such different understandings about the same God.
I have friends who have only experienced the extreme love and approval of God and have apparently never experienced his anger or correction. Other friends have regularly encountered His anger and correction but they’ve also felt His love. I have still other friends who have rarely experienced God in a personal way. They tend to get their ideas about Him from what they read in the Bible or what they hear preached from the pulpit. Some have spent a lot of time studying the Old Testament and have come to the conclusion that God is in a bad mood because of our constant failures.
In his book Placebo, Howard Pittman relates the story of when he died during surgery and went before the throne of God in a near-death experience. Pittman was a man who spent his life serving God in full-time ministry. Escorted by angels through the second and third heavens, all he could think about on the journey was asking God to extend his earthy life.
As he passed through the gates of heaven and went before the throne of God, he made his petition to have his life extended. He listed all the things he’d done over the course of his life in service to the church as God listened in silence. He recounted the many sermons and prayers and other things he’d done in the hope that they had pleased God. Then he finally became silent.
As the Lord spoke, Howard detected anger in His voice. The One on the throne pointed out that the deeds he had done were not done from a heart of love and compassion for others. They were done for his own sense of accomplishment and his need to be seen by others as a spiritual man. All his works were done to improve his standing in the eyes of others and none of them were pleasing to God. The Lord rebuked him for his pride and arrogance thinking he had deserved approval for his selfish acts. Pittman stood confused and bewildered, thinking God must have been speaking about someone else. After another exchange of words, the man fell to his knees, broken and disheartened as the angels escorted him back to the second heaven.
In the second heaven, he was shown the nature of evil spirits, their different forms, rankings, areas of specialization and how they entice and enter humans. But his mind went back to his one desire; to have his earthly life extended. The bitterness of God’s rebuke resonated in his spirit. As he thought about his own selfishness and blindness, his pride had turned to brokenness and then humility. He asked the angels to let him appear before the Lord one more time and they granted his request.
Approaching the gate, he realized he had nothing to offer God in the way of good deeds. Thinking that perhaps God might show him mercy, he planned to plead with God one more time to have his earthly life extended. At the foot of God’s throne, he made his request and became silent. At once he was enveloped in the grip of an overpowering love that he’d never felt before. A tender, compassionate and loving Father began speaking with him about his request and soon thereafter, he returned to his body.
As I thought about this man’s testimony, it occurred to me that many of us only see one aspect of God’s character. When we experience only one aspect of His nature, it’s easy to assume that it’s the only one there is. This man saw two sides of God; His compassionate side and His angry side. He didn’t meet two different Gods. He saw different aspects of the same God. The aspects that he saw were determined by the condition of his heart.
If my son came home after murdering a dozen people at school and tried to rationalize killing them, saying that they deserved death for the way they lived, my son is going to see the angry side of me. But if he comes home after the same event, weeping and broken-hearted because of the pain and suffering he caused and is sincerely sorrowful over what he had done, he is going to see a different side of me.
The side of my character that my son sees is determined by the attitude of his heart. I believe the same is true about the way we see God. Those who come to God with a humble and contrite heart, even after committing horrible sin (king David comes to mind) are met by a loving Father. Those who come before Him in self-righteousness, pride and arrogance see a God who disapproves of the condition of their heart.
When we meet with God’s disapproval, it isn’t that God disapproves of us as individuals; His disapproval is directed at the condition of our heart. When we change the condition of our heart through repentance, the way in which He responds to us changes. God doesn’t actually hate homosexuals, as the Westboro Baptists teach. He loves them, but He may take issue with the attitudes of their hearts, in the same way He does with anyone else.
Why Does God Allow…?