We recently had another mass shooting at a college campus in America. It is in times like these that even the softest believer tends to look for a God with a backbone and sword. For years these love-bound Christians have chastised those who would talk about the judgment of God, telling them that the world doesn't want or need to hear about wrath, but rather is in need of grace. But sometimes things are so bad that everyone wants their pound of flesh.
The problem with taking an extreme and exclusive view of God in these areas is that the world does not get a true picture of the God who is. God does love. He is love. He expects His people to love. But that love is driven by holiness. There are right ways to love and wrong ways to love, just as there are right ways to judge and wrong ways to judge.
It is difficult at times to strike a balance. We want God to love and save people like these shooters. But we also need to pray that justice works in favor of the ones who were shot. Is it possible to hope that the wicked get their justice while the righteous get theirs? I believe it is. We don't have to leave the God who loves His enemies in order to embrace the God who pours out wrath on His enemies.
The writers of the Psalms seem to strike this balance well. Here is an example we find in one of the Psalms of David... Psalm 11
I have taken refuge in the Lord.
How can you say to me,
“Escape to the mountain like a bird!
For look, the wicked string the bow; they put the arrow on the bowstring to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch; He examines everyone.
The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked.
He hates the lover of violence.
He will rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; a scorching wind will be their portion.
For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds.
The upright will see His face.
God is able to love the sinner and hate the sin. He is able to defend His people without apology. He gives to everyone a measure of light and grace... way more than we deserve. When someone goes beyond that measure, God is well within His loving rights to destroy the offender and protect the righteous. Sometimes in God's sovereignty He decides that both the victim and perpetrator will die from the sin, but only one will die for the sin, as was the case in Oregon.
Sin brings death. God, through Christ has overcome sin and death. He has provided a way for every person to accept the redemption and reconciliation that makes things right between a loving just God and His fallen children. We need not box God in to love or wrath. He is love. He exhibits wrath. These have both always been true, and they continue to be true today.
Today we can show both righteous indignation and love in the midst of fallen humanity. We should defend the defenseless. We should oppose the unjust. We can do this with mercy, grace and love, just as we would want someone to do with us.