A pretty comfortable life

By Dave Henning / August 29, 2023

“A God who does not get angry when evil destroys the creation he loves is ultimately not a loving God at all. . . .  As some have pointed out, you have to have had a pretty comfortable life — without any experience of oppression and injustice yourself — to not want a God who punishes sin.”- Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 9 of The Prodigal Prophet as he talks about God’s complex character.  First, the author notes, many people in the modern West aren’t troubled by God’s mercy.  Because they refuse to accept the concept of a God who judges.  As a result, they simply want a God of love.

However, Pastor Keller counters, if something threatens to destroy someone you love, you must and will get angry.  In Exodus 34:6-7, God told Moses that He’s both compassionate and committed to punishing sin.  Both are aspects of the goodness God declares.

Most significantly, Pastor Keller states, the single word goodness serves to bind these apparently contradictory traits together.  Therefore, the author explains:

“God must punish sin . . . because he would not be perfectly good if he overlooked evil.  But . . . God does not want people to be lost . . . because he’s too good, in the sense of being loving.  He would not be good if he just let everyone perish.  So his righteousness and love, far from being at loggerheads, are both simply functions of his goodness.  He could not be infinitely and perfectly good unless he was endlessly loving and perfectly just.”

Yet, Pastor Keller points out, we still experience a contradiction.  Hence, we reason:

  • either God is perfectly just, loving only people who obey the commandments
  • or God’s perfectly loving and thus overlooks a lot of sin that He really must punish

In conclusion, Pastor Keller adds, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins displays the infinitely just nature of God.  Because all sin was punished there.  And because Jesus took our sin on to Himself, we experience God’s infinite love.

Today’s question: At what times do you desire a pretty comfortable life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A perfect unity – not tension”

About the author

Dave Henning

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