[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22966706 w=468&h=351]
12Stone Church – “In The Beginning” with Pastor Kevin Meyers
This year I embarked on probably the biggest personal development project of my career – reading through the whole Bible in a year.
Having been a Christian my entire life, I had read the Bible in bits and pieces but had never really sat down and purposefully and intentionally dug into the Word with any sort of consistency.
There’s an App for That
After finding an app on my phone that offered a customized day-by-day reading plan I decided that it was time to for me to stop taking a lazy approach to my faith and to dedicate a year to learning who God is and how I fit into His plan.
The first few weeks in Genesis and Exodus were fun – who doesn’t love the adventures of the Israelites? Next came Leviticus and I felt like I was dying a slow and painful death (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, open up your Bible and you’ll see what I mean.)
I found my attention-span muscle being stretched to the max as I struggled to stay focused on what I was reading when I really felt like skipping ahead to something more interesting and practical to my life.
Finding an Angry God?
Over the next few months as I read through the Old Testament I found myself getting more and more depressed with each passing day. With the exception of a few chapters, it seemed to me that the text repeatedly circled around God’s desire to wipe out those He had created because of their disobedience.
- You name it…
God was angry and He let us know.
Feeling fatigued, I found myself frequently flipping to the table of contents to see how close to the New Testament I was…was it ever coming? Would the OT ever end? When would I get to the good stuff?
God Help Me
Yesterday while in the book of Hosea I prayed a desperate prayer to God expressing my confusion over who He is as this part of the Bible was painting a pictures of a very different god than the one I had been taught about in my “God is good – all the time” themed church.
I was awash with questions:
- Was He an angry God or a loving God?
- Is He punishing or merciful?
- Is He a giver or a taker?
I needed some answers. In exhaustion I read into the book of Joel I came across the following scripture:
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
What did this mean? Gracious and compassionate? Abounding in love? How did this tie into the entity that for the past 7 months who had seemingly done nothing but threaten ultimate genocide on His chosen people? I begged God for wisdom about this scripture. How did the two gods fit together? Did they fit together?
Being Tough and Tender
I thought back to a call I had with a coaching client earlier in the day who was struggling with engaging a difficult staff member. My advice to her was that as the boss she had to be tough yet tender at the same time and the key was in balancing the two. Was this the same thing? As I thought about it some more I had this realization about the nature of God (I would love your thoughts on this; weigh in with a comment below).
God was angry sometimes but He is also slow to anger.
God was revenge seeking sometimes, but He was also compassionate.
God did want to give up on His people sometimes but He was also abounding in love.
I realized that, as leaders, we always have opportunities to express our anger and resentment. But at the end of the day, the defining question become this:
How do we handle ourselves?
Defining Q’s & A’s
- Do we just get angry or are we intentional about being slow to anger?
- Are we get stuck on revenge-seeking or are we able to put our agendas away and see others with the eyes of compassion?
- Do we give up on people and refuse to forgive or at the end of the day are we able to move forward and abound in love?
It’s okay to be angry (God got angry too) but what is our next choice when we feel like that?
The Power of Scripture
Through this scripture God spoke to me about my attitude; it’s not enough for me to try to suppress feeling vengeful, I am called to actively show compassion. It’s not enough for me to just forgive, forget and move on, I am called to approach others with abounding love.
I don’t know about you, but this for me was a hard pill to swallow.
As we see in the Word, although God was obviously angry sometimes, that is not the whole story. He was also so much more and has called us to be the same thing.
My question to the other Christian leaders out there is this:
Have you spent so much energy trying to push aside the “angry you” that you completely ignored opportunities where you could show patience, compassion, and love to those around you?
God shows us through His example that feeling angry sometimes is not the problem, it’s the response that we choose next that counts.
So, what do you think? Are you modeling the kindness, compassion, and unbounded love that God has shown you? Do you quickly forgive and show love beyond understanding ? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Image Sources: 12Stone.com