People nowadays think that they have the ability and freedom to make God be who we want Him to be. We think our freedom of religion means that we can choose and say with authority how God acts, who He is, what He thinks and feels. Fortunately for us, Scripture tells us everything that we need to know about God. Perhaps the most glorious truth about God is that He is love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
– 1 John 4.7-8
But we have culturally defined love in a way that does not apply to God. We value tolerance, independence and freedom more than truth, and we have bought into the deception that we can define truth by our experience and opinion. Thus, we have taught ourselves (and deceived ourselves) that love means tolerance, affirmation, and unconditional approval. We know that God is love, and therefore everything that He does is loving. But is everything that He does kind?
Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
– Rom 11.22
No. Everything that God does is not kind. He regretted that He had made mankind just a few generations into the existence of the world, and He killed everyone who was alive by a flood – except Noah and his family. He destroyed cities and nations to establish His authority and punish sin. And even Jesus went into the temple and out of anger threw over tables and chased people out of the temple with a whip. If someone came into your office with a whip and overturned your desk and chased you out of the building, would you think that a kind action? I am confident that would not strike me as kind. We can be confident that Jesus is love and that He was driven by a zeal for God and for the temple, and thus acted towards those who were defiling the temple.
Therefore, we understand Romans more fully. It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Rom 2.4). And it is His mercy that continually works in us maturity and becoming more like Christ (Phil 2.13). Therefore, if we remain in God and obey His commandments, we remain in His kindness. But His severity is the opposite of his kindness and is the consequence of disobedience and not walking with Him.
Consider Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They were a part of the Church, they were involved, and they sold their property and gave a portion of the revenue to the Church but lied and said that they had given the entire profit to the church. God struck them both dead on the spot. This is not an act of kindness, this is severity.
God is love. And when we know God, when we make him the Lord of our lives, keeps us in His kindness and mercy. If He is not our Lord, Scripture defines Him as jealous, a consuming fire, almighty and righteous judge who will not let one sin go unpunished.
It is sort of like expectations when you enter into a romantic relationship. When you get married and move in together with your spouse, everyone realizes that they had expectations that were not met. Perhaps your father always took out the trash or filled up the gas tank on the car for your mom. Your husband might not have been taught that that was his responsibility, and this will cause tension between a couple. Perhaps your mom cooked three hot meals a day and did your laundry, but your wife cannot cook or has no interest in doing the laundry. This will cause tensions in your relationship. You have to get to know who your spouse is, what they value, what they enjoy, what they expect and what they want to do. Before we come to God for salvation, we [can] have a warm fuzzy expectation of who God is and how He acts. We can expect Him to do certain things and to not do others. But when we make Him the Lord of our lives, we are going to realize that our expectations might have been wrong. The difference here is that between a husband and wife we should find a compromise. With God, we submit.
So, instead of pouting and starting segregate groups with people who just agree with us, let us turn to Scripture and let us allow God to say who He is, to express how He thinks, and submit to that. We do not want to be shocked on judgment day that we never truly knew Him! And let us evaluate our lives, and recognize that God is kind to His children, and severe to those who never repent from their sins. And let that drive us to urgently share the Gospel and hope of salvation with those who do not yet have it!