Thursday 29 April 2021

Bible Book:

So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. (v. 16)

Romans 9:14-26 Thursday 29 April 2021

Psalm 119:129-144


Some people talk a lot about God’s wrath. Paul isn’t doing that here, instead he makes it clear that what we see of God is mercy. That if you believe God should be showing wrath to some for what they have done, then actually what you will see is mercy.

What we see here is Paul showing that it is people who are calling for and expecting God’s wrath on others. Those who want God to exclude certain groups and punish them tell them they are subject to God’s wrath. Sadly we often see 'Christians' against Jews, against LGBTQIA people, against women and more. Yet Paul is arguing instead that they will see God’s mercy. He is saying those who are seen as not God’s people will be called 'my people', 'beloved' and 'children of the living God'.

Paul is pointing out that a consequence of God’s authority and nature is that we cannot influence it, however much we want to be proved right, or want others to be punished for doing what we believe is wrong. In the end it doesn’t depend on us but on God – and God will be merciful.

The challenge here is to avoid wanting to take over from God. We must not try to condemn others in the name of God because at the end, God is sovereign and God will show mercy.

There is a common tendency to see disasters (whether natural phenomena or caused by humans) as being divine punishment, God’s wrath on display. Paul rejects that completely, and we recognise that in some of our Holy Communion liturgies where we say “God’s nature is always to show mercy”. Yet still for many there is the desire for God’s wrath to fall on those they disapprove of. Paul is saying that this is a misunderstanding of God’s nature. God shows us what God is like by always showing mercy. Maybe it is about time we recognised that isn’t going to change, and stop trying to decide for God what God is like.


To Ponder:

  • What are your experiences of being told of God’s wrath?
  • If God always shows mercy then where is God’s wrath?
  • How might we respond to those who say people will attract God’s wrath?
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