I am going to kill you.
What do you think when you hear those words? Some person killing another? Let me sketch you a few scenarios to add some color to those words.
I say it through clenched teeth after you killed my wife and all I can think of is revenge.
I say it laughingly after you threw me with some water and I now chase you around in the garden.
I say it smilingly to you before we go on the tennis court to play a match.
I say it to you because I am a psychopath and you are about to die.
I say it to my group of friends before I tell a joke.
I say it because I wear a scary costume and I want to scare the living daylights out of you during Halloween.
You can add your own scenarios, but the context matters, don’t you think? The same with emotion. How does regret sound when you read just a sentence? How does sarcasm sound when we read a sentence. Hope? Joy? Anger? Where am I going with this? I want to take you to the harsh words of God in the Bible. For example:
Mat 23:23 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others.
Mat 23:24 Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel!
Mat 23:25 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.
Mat 23:26 Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too!
Mat 23:27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside.
Mat 23:28 In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.
Mat 23:29 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You make fine tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who lived good lives;
You may ask, “where is the love of Jesus in this? He seems very angry and He is giving them quite a tongue lashing. Where is the patience? The tolerance? How does the picture change if I tell you Jesus was crying when He said those words? (Go on, read them while you are crying. What are the emotions you are feeling?) Does the picture change when I tell you He wanted to hold them in His loving arms, and show them the damage they were doing? Does the picture change when I tell you there was sadness and regret in His voice? Does the picture change when I tell you that every time Jesus saw the Pharisees, His heart broke?
Read again some of the angry words of God in the Old testament. Was He ONLY angry when He spoke them? Could He been crying when He said them? Do our version of God allow for a God that cries? Did a great sadness sometimes come over our Father? Did He say words with regret? Was there hope in His heart that the situation would turn out differently? I think we want Him to be angry, mad and fuming all the time. We can please an angry God(we know how), but how will we heal the heart of a heartrending God? Can we run into the arms of an angry God and cry with Him?
Did God get angry? Yes, of course, but how did that anger look? I wonder…
Context matters don’t you think? There is so much of the Father’s heart we still have to discover and just maybe…when we get angry about all the wrong things happening around us, our anger will have a heart broken by Love.
(This post dedicated to Tracy Simmons)