God is angry.

(Note: This post, even more than most of my other posts, reflects a thought in development. It is not a definitive statement of my opinion for all time, nor should it be read as any sort of authoritative teaching. It’s crazy that any blog post should need a disclaimer like this, but such is the reality of the internet. I do, however, think I might be right, and would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below.

Also, Warning: this post mentions the existence of—but does not describe—homicide, rape,  starvation, and human trafficking.)

“You know, I don’t think I can even imagine you getting angry.”

One of my friends told me this last week, echoing a sentiment I’ve been told my whole life. And it’s true; I’ve never been very good at being angry.

My lack of rage is partly due to my naturally laid-back personality, but I think it also has deep roots in my understanding of God.

As a kid, I grew up thinking that anger was sinful, that if I got mad God would get mad at me. In other words, I avoided getting angry for the same reason I avoided any other sin—because I imagined God as constantly on the verge of losing his temper, and didn’t want to be one of those “sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

When I transitioned into adulthood, my picture of God shifted drastically. In college—perhaps for the first time—I learned that God wasn’t some cranky old man in the sky; God was love, grace, and unrelenting compassion. So I continued eschewing anger in my pursuit of godliness; if God wasn’t angry, I shouldn’t be either.

Here’s the thing, though: as I’ve been rethinking a lot of my assumptions about anger lately, I’ve come to a startling conclusion.

God is angry.

God has to be angry.

Now don’t worry; this is still a blog about God’s hospitality. I don’t think God is essentially or primarily angry. God’s identity is still love, compassion, hospitality eternally.  It’s that eternal hospitality that necessitates God’s anger. A loving God must also be angry.

Let me show you what I mean:

Imagine a mother who returns home from work to find out that one of her sons had been gunned down in the street, another had been starved to death, one of her daughters had been raped, while the other had been kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Can you imagine that same woman not getting angry? I can’t. In fact, I’d say that any parent for whom this kind of news produces no anger is either psychologically unsound or utterly unloving.

And yet, each of these tragedies befalls God’s children every single day, and we expect God not to be angry? What kind of God is that? A God who cannot get angry is not a loving God.

Let me be clear: God is not abusive. Anger wrongly expressed is abuse. But, as the illustration above highlights, a refusal to get angry can be neglect, a passive form of abuse. A God who does not anger is an abusive God.

Likewise, the belief in a God who cannot be angered produces a community that has no idea what to do with its anger. Just as a community who worships an abusively angry God is likely to perpetuate abuse, a community that worships an anger-less God is likely to perpetuate neglect.

So I’m not ok with a God who can’t get angry. And I’m no longer ok with my own inability to get angry.

I’m not done thinking or writing about this topic—I’m sure I have at least a couple posts left in me, reflecting more on what makes God angry and how we can learn to share in God’s anger—but I’m sincerely interested in your input.

What do you think? Can God be angry? If so, does that give us the right to be angry? How does your (or your community’s) understanding of God’s anger (or lack thereof) shape your actions?

The Best Donation I’ve Ever Received

For DePaul students, today is the first day back to school after a seven week break, which means two things: (1) I’m suddenly very busy and excited about our plans for the upcoming months, and (2) I don’t have any recent stories from campus to share with you all, because it’s been closed for a while.

This isn’t to say I haven’t been doing anything for the past month; most of my time since Thanksgiving has been spent connecting families, alumni, and churches with the movement at DePaul and inviting them to join in through prayer, volunteering, and financial support. I’ve visited seven different states in the past seven weeks sharing stories and cultivating partnerships; chances are, if you’re getting reading this, you and I have talked sometime in the past month. (It was good to see you; you’re looking great!)

Speaking of partnership, as far as support goes, this past month has been incredibly encouraging. As I mentioned in my last update, it’s been a struggle to raise the money needed to fund our ministry on campus. However, in the past couple months, dozens of people have generously given extra gifts; an additional $9000 has been donated since October! What amazes me most about this is that the majority of these recent gifts have come from people I’ve never actually met: alumni, their family and friends, and friends of current monthly donors. I can’t express how encouraging it is to experience God’s provision through the generosity of strangers!

Which brings me to the story I promised in the title, the story of “the best donation I’ve ever received.”

When I got home last week, after spending most of the month out of town, I found a large manila envelope leaning against my door, with a return address from Kentucky. Reaching inside, I found this card, from a couple I met only briefly when I spoke at a church they were visiting in Michigan:

encouragement card

And this stack of coloring pages:

encouragement coloring pictures

This is awesome for so many reasons.

Our theme for this quarter is “embodying God’s love.” I can’t think of a better example of God’s love embodied than this group of kids working hard on some coloring pages to support a group of strangers at a university in a city they’ve never visited. They couldn’t help fund our ministry or volunteer to mentor a freshman, and they’re still just learning how to pray. But they did what they could, and it made my day.

These coloring pages sum up what has been so moving about my recent season of support-raising. This past month, I’ve been reminded of the vast network of people across the country doing what they can—some giving $100’s of dollars each year, others praying every week, others inviting students into their homes—to embody God’s love for students at DePaul. And I’m filled with gratitude for each of you. It’s a joy to be the staff worker for the chapter here, but it’s an even greater joy to be a part of such a large team of generous families, loyal alumni, hospitable students, and now, artistic little kids.

To follow what’s happening with DePaul InterVarsity throughout the rest of the school year, click here. 

To support DePaul InterVarsity financially, click here.