"Is God Mad At Me?"

It happened 2 days in a row! 2 different guys. 2 friends! They were both in their mid 40's.

They came to see me separately. Privately! They were ashamed and didn't want anyone to see all the pain they were going through.

Both these guys had lived rough lives and were homeless at the time! They told me tales of their rampant drug and alcohol abuse, violence, robberies, gang-banging, sexual craziness, homelessness and how they rotated in and out of jail and prison.

As they reflected on everything they'd done, both of them started crying uncontrollably! This was strange for me to see, as I had always envisioned them as too proud to cry, but on these 2 days, they couldn't hold back the tears! They were crying, because they were convinced that God was mad at them, and therefore, had given up on them. They were both convinced that they couldn't be forgiven and God was sending them on the fast track to hell. They felt that all hope was lost!

Now, similar to what the person who wrote the question asked, these 2 guys believe in Jesus and are trying to live right. They've both made some major progress, they aren't who they once were, but they also continue to struggle. They've conquered certain things, but other areas continue to rear their ugly heads. Sometimes they slip up in one area, which leads to other areas, and they end up, once again, in some pretty ugly places and situations.

This cycle and these struggles, lead to the uncontrollable crying! They felt God was mad at them, and had therefore, abandoned them and could not forgive them. They felt God did not love them because of what they'd done and continue to do! They equated God's anger with rejection and hatred. They felt, God was mad at them, and therefore, they could not, in any way, receive the Mercy and Love of God!

Even though I spoke with these 2 fellas separately, I shared the same story with both of them. It's found in Luke 18....

Jesus was talking with some people that had the opposite problem, they were convinced they were "right" with God. They were arrogant, obnoxious and self-righteous. Jesus told them a story about 2 men praying; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

The Pharisee, with an air of arrogance, stood up for all to see and prayed about himself; thanking God he wasn't like robbers, adulterers and the tax collector. He bragged to God about all the good he did! He was convinced that God was impressed with all he was and did, and the people around him were beneath him and should marvel at his greatness.

Then Jesus continued His story with these revolutionary words, "But the tax collector stood not very far away. He would not even look up to heaven. He beat his chest and said, 'God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.'"

"I tell you, the tax collector went home accepted by God. But not the Pharisee. Everyone who lifts himself up will be brought down. And anyone who is brought down will be lifted up." (Luke‬ ‭18:13-14 ‭NIRV)

If Jesus told this story today, I could imagine Him using these 2 fellas as examples! They were crying out to God for His mercy. They know they are sinners, they know they screw up, they know they have disappointed God and they know they need God's mercy for any hope of survival. They knew the only chance they had, was by receiving the grace and mercy of Jesus!

These 2 fellas knew something about themselves that many today don't know! There are many people who act just like the arrogant Pharisee, they enjoy scoffing at and ridiculing people like the 2 fellas who visited me! Many people today are too proud and don't believe they need the Grace of God, they turn up their noses at those struggling and suffering, while not understanding the Heart and Love of God. Many people today are confused, they think God adores our pride, our self-acclamations and comparisons, while not understanding that Jesus calls us to be like this repentant, sinful and humiliated tax-collector.  

These 2 guys knew one thing, and they knew it well! They knew how messed up they were, they knew they were not worthy of God's Mercy, they knew that their works would amount to nothing, but also knew, this Mercy was the only thing that could help them survive! That's why they prayed! That's why they wept!

When I told them this story, it was my privilege to tell them that God delights in true repentance and that they were where God needs them to be!

Do we make God mad? The answer is yes. Of course we do! We sin, we screw up, we ignore Him, we reject Him, we're arrogant and we go our own way. I know I do all those things all the time! I'm sure I make Him angry, but it's important to remember, it doesn't mean He stops loving me or has given up on me. Just like the tax-collector, He calls us to humble repentance!

God was angry, (very angry at times), at the Israelites, Abraham, Moses, David and other spiritual giants we read about in the Bible, but He kept on loving them, forgiving them and taking them to new places. Jesus got mad at Peter, James and John, his closest disciples, but He didn't reject them. He kept on loving them, forgiving them and He helped them to grow and become leaders.

It's important that we separate our anger with God's anger. It's very different! We may get mad, we often want hurt the other person, dismiss them or hate them. God, in all His love, uses His anger for opportunities for mercy, forgiveness and growth. He uses our screw ups for the good of His Kingdom. He uses our weaknesses for good. When He disciplines us, He uses these times to train us for our good.

I have a 12 year old boy and a 10 year old girl. They're great kids and I love them dearly, but sometimes they don't listen too well or they "straight up" ignore me. There are times when I have to repeat myself again and again, and this makes me mad!

Do I give up on them? Do I say "you screwed up again, forget you and get out of my life?" No! My love for Cyrus and Muriwai causes me to use these opportunities for their good. My love for my kids means there are times when I need to discipline them. They don't like it, they question it, but I want them to learn from their mistakes and to grow.

When my kids make me mad, I may discipline them, but I do it for their good. My love for them doesn't want to let it simmer or seek revenge. My love for them results in forgiveness, having mercy on them, training them and walking through their valleys with them. My love for them wants to see them grow into godly, loving and compassionate adults!

The writer of Hebrews illustrates how parents discipline their children, and reveals how God, out of His love for us, takes this to another level;

"Our parents trained us for a little while. They did what they thought was best. But God trains us for our good. He does this so we may share in his holiness. No training seems pleasant at the time. In fact, it seems painful. But later on it produces a harvest of godliness and peace. It does this for those who have been trained by it." Hebrew 12:10-11 (NIRV)

Other versions use the word discipline! It says that God disciplines us for our good. He disciplines us so we may share in His holiness! Even though we may screw up and may be disciplined by God, don't forget, His love never fails and He's full of mercy. He uses our mistakes, our failings and our rebellion for our good! He does this because of one reason: He loves us!

We are going to mess up. Unfortunately, we're going to keep on making the same old mistakes time and time again. But God's love never fails and He loves to forgive the broken-hearted. He wants to see us grow. He wants to see us share in His holiness. He wants us to produce a harvest of godliness and peace. God loves it when people come to Him and humbly pray the prayer of the tax collector; "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" It's where He wants us to be!

Whatever you've done and whatever continue to do: Come to God and know He still loves you! Come to God and know He forgives you! Come to God, and know that if He chooses to discipline you, it's for your good! He doesn't want you to remain stagnant; he wants you to grow!

Right now, times may be hard, they may be confusing and it may be tough to see God through it all, but know Jesus is there, right beside you, loving you with a revolutionary Love we can never truly comprehend, God's Love, His forgiveness and His Merciful acceptance of those who struggling through the valleys is why I want to close by encouraging you all with the words of Hebrews 12:12-13; "So lift your sagging arms. Strengthen your weak knees. Make level paths for your feet to walk on. Then those who have trouble walking won't be disabled. Instead, they will be healed!"

A brief summary of why I wrote this: There's a ministry on the West-side of Chicago called Mission:USA; every Tuesday night they have a Church service called The BRIDGE. Their services are open to everybody, but especially those who find it hard to gel in their local congregations! Or to put into cruder terms; a lot of these men and women are ex-offenders, homeless and low-income folk who have felt ostracized and rejected by many churches, so their mission is to be a bridge between prison, the streets and the Church. The Bridge helps these wonderful men and women find churches that will welcome them with open arms..... 
And isn't this exactly what the Gospel and the "Kingdom of God" is all about? 

Every Tuesday night, The Bridge has a host team from a Church, who greet the guests and provide a meal. The guests anonymously submit questions about their "walk of faith", and staff from The Bridge pick out a relevant question. Meanwhile, they have invited 3 pastors from 3 different churches to come and give a 10 minute sermon each about this specific question or topic. In my humble opinion, this is a great concept and ministry, who's staff is very loving, compassionate and supportive to the "least of these".
This was a sermon preached on 2/2/16, in response to this question; "Is God Mad At Me?"

I’ve been trying to live my life right and be a Christian, but there are some things I really don’t want to let go of, and I want to know, is God is angry with me because of that? I know He can’t be happy about it, but I hope He understands. I’ve come a long way, doesn’t that count for something?
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