REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 5, 2013. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Can the Wrath of God Bring Comfort to Us?”
Psalm 21:8-12 (ESV)
Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. 9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. 10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. 11 Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
Understandably, most Christians in America are uncomfortable with the idea of God’s wrath. In our theological grid, there is little room for the justice of God and it seems unloving to talk about God outside of the parameters of His love, mercy, and grace.
We rarely think that our views of God are purely cultural and don’t realize that these opinions are not shared by much of the world. Miroslav Volf, who is a theologian at Yale Divinity and eyewitness of the violence in Croatia, talks about the weakness of a God who is unable to exact final vengeance upon his enemies. If men cannot be certain that God ultimately is just, then we will take justice into our own hands, ensuring that the cycle of violence and war will continue indefinitely.
In this way, the wrath of God is something to be greatly feared but also something that brings great comfort for those who have suffered for the sake of righteousness. There is much wisdom in obeying the words of Romans 12:9, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.”
As you get ready for the day, is there an aspect of God’s character that you haven’t given much thought to? Spend a few moments thinking about the many different attributes of God and give Him your worship.
Prayer: God Almighty, I confess that my thoughts of You are often too small and limited in scope. Help me to see You more clearly and to seek a greater revelation of all that You are. May I never lose my sense of awe and amazement as I think upon Your loving goodness and moral perfection. You are truly Lord of my life and God above all. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 5:39 (ESV): “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Questions to Consider
- In what context were these words spoken? (Matthew 5:38-42)
- What Old Testament commandment was Jesus clarifying? (Exodus 21:24)
- Is this proof that all Christians should be pacifists and stand opposed to war?
- Jesus spoke these words in the Sermon on the Mount, which represents the most important collection of the moral teachings of Christ. It describes the ethics of those who are members of the Kingdom of God. Properly applied, it has tremendous power to bring about incredible change in our lives and the world we live in.
- Jesus was clarifying and intensifying the rule of lex talionis found in the Old Testament that restricted retribution so that the punishment would fit the crime. He wanted believers to be above this tit-for-tat retribution that is common to the world and break the cycle of evil actions that break human relationships.
- This command cannot be taken as an absolute rule. There are clearly times when Christians must resist evil and even use force in certain contexts. There is a Christian organization in India that forcefully rescues women enslaved in sex trafficking because of the government’s indifference to this evil. In certain situations like this, righteous anger is needed and appropriate.
Often times, the commands of Christ seem far too difficult to seriously consider. This is when we realize that the Christian life is not simply hard, it is impossible unless we are continually filled by the Holy Spirit.
Was there a chance to act in kindness towards someone today? How did you react in negative situations at work, on the commute, and with your family? Were you mindful of the Gospel in these situations?