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No one in his right mind would admit to it, but it is there nonetheless. In fact, it is there in epidemic numbers. The church is full of people who are embarrassed by God. Sure, there are parts of Him about which we are terribly proud. We are so eager to let the world know about the love of God that we assure His enemies He loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, though God has not so promised. We are pleased to announce His compassion, His grace, His wisdom, and His sympathy.

When we open our Bibles, however, we find all manner of things that God does, right out in the open where everyone can see. His judgment, His holiness, His purity, His jealousy, and His wrath are all blowing in the wind like so much dirty laundry. And the strange thing to us is that He seems to be proud of these things. No, that’s not strange. What is strange is that we who say we love Him are ashamed of those things about which He is proud.

How can I be so sure? As I said, no one will admit it. But the silence in our pulpits is loud enough. We not only do not preach the wrath of God, we laugh at our Puritan forebears who did. We make fun of “hellfire-and-brimstone” preaching because we don’t really believe in hellfire and brimstone. But God is the one who heats the fire of hell, who sends the brimstone raining down on us. And though it embarrasses too many of us, He delights to do so.

This is our true shame. We confess before Him our failure to keep our quiet time faithfully. We confess that we covet our neighbor’s car. We confess that we thought an ugly thought against a friend. What we do not confess is the beginning of our sin, our idolatry. We do not confess that we worship a god of our own making. The only thing that sets us apart from the world around us is that our god has some resemblance to the true God, or at least part of Him.

There is only one antidote for our hatred of God’s wrath, and that is His mercy. But His mercy comes through His wrath. He will forgive us our idolatry, if we confess it, because He spent His wrath at Calvary.

The God we worship we worship coram Deo, before His face. He sees us as we are. By His grace, may He teach us to see Him as He is, and rejoice.

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From the February 2002 Issue
Feb 2002 Issue