Love-Colored Glasses

A common criticism of Scripture is that it's full of contradictions. I disagree, though I do see how people get that impression. Gospel writers focus on different details and letter writers have different emphases and one of the joys of studying Scripture for me has been to resolve the apparent discrepancies and find the unity between seemingly opposite ideas. Salvation by Grace vs Salvation by Good Deeds, for instance. Or God's Love vs his Wrath.

When faced with potentially opposing viewpoints, it's helpful to understand one of them as overriding the other. It's sort of the lens through which I see the other. So when thinking about Grace vs Good Deeds, I understand that Grace is the dominant idea presented in Scripture and when I read passages about the importance of Good Deeds, I'm allowing Grace to color that reading. Same with Love and Wrath.

Another way of describing Wrath is Justice. The idea is that God becomes angry about humanity's injustice and does something about it. But the very way that I've phrased that idea shows that I've chosen to look at it through the lens of Love. Love is my overriding viewpoint, so when I think about God's anger, I understand it as a manifestation of his love. And I believe that Scripture bears that out.

1 John 4:8 states that "God is love" and that's a central verse for me. I don't understand John to be just be saying that God is full of love. He's saying that God literally is love. It's his defining characteristic and he in turn is the true definition and measuring stick of what it means to be loving. Which includes getting angry sometimes, but always about selfless things. Loving anger is never over a harm or grievance done to me. It's over harms and grievances done to others.

This is so central to my understanding of God and Scripture that I wanted to put it out there first. Everything that I believe about Christianity - from God himself to the nature of sin - is formed by the point of view that God and Love define each other.


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