Saturday, January 26, 2019

Emotionally conflicted God

God is consistent in character. Consistent character is definitely the meaning of the "God does not change" statements in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19; James 1:17). Nevertheless, God experiences emotions and sometimes those emotions are conflicted.
Jeremiah 12:8
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me—
therefore I hate her.

Jeremiah 31:3
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Well, what is it? Does God hate God's people or does God love God's people? The answer is that God sometimes has a love-hate relationship with God's people. God's actions in history have betrayed both relational passions toward God's people.
Jeremiah 10:24
Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure;
not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.
Jeremiah realized that God is sometimes so angry that, if God punished his people during that angry spell, it would be the end of them. God needs a cooling off period before punishing. Similarly, we humans should cool off before we perform any punishment to our own children.

How can we accept a God who is sometimes emotionally conflicted? The reason we should accept this God is:
  • because God is consistent in character and faithful to covenant/promise.
  • because the God of the Bible is the only God that exists.
  • because a responsive God holds to account the actions of those God loves.
The less we are committed to covenant relationship with God, the more arbitrary God's emotional disposition toward us may seem. God has positioned God's self into a divinely vulnerable position because God is totally committed to relationship. We are the ones who wander away from God. In a relationship, the one who is most committed to it is the one most vulnerable to grief and pain. God has exposed God's self to that kind of damage. Would we renew our own promisses to be faithful to God?

Does this revelation about God's emotions bring God down to the level of humans? No. We need to be careful about assuming God is just like us. It is true, however, that we are a lot like God. It means something to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Humans experience emotions that originated at the divine level. Emotions are not in themselves evil. I am even talking about negative emotions like anger and jealousy. The question is if your emotions control you or if you control yourself while experiencing these very strong emotions. God works to prevent God's motions from ruling God just as we are expected to prevent our own emotions from ruling ourselves.

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