Did I ever tell you about the time, my husband lived a block away from Jeffrey Dahmer?

My husband and I lived in Milwaukee, when Jeffrey Dahmer was killing and eating people.  In fact, my husband lived only a street away from where Jeffrey Dahmer lived.  We did not know he was doing this.  No one knew for years–that he was doing this.  However, when my husband and I were dating each other, my husband was very protective, and asked that I call him when I arrived at my apartment.  One night, I got caught up in a conversation with my landlady and forgot to call him.  He showed up at my doorstep, very concerned.  It touched my heart that he showed such protection for me.  At the time, I thought it was a little bit overboard, but in hindsight, knowing someone like Jeffrey Dahmer was out there–it was not too much protection at all!!

We like to think that Jeffrey Dahmer is an aberrant – and that people who go into schools and shoot children are an aberrant– but in reality–we as people are capable of great evil–as holocausts down through ages have shown. 

I’m sure people have thought we have evolved and are beyond these things–but anyone who studies history knows that we have not changed in nature, all that much.

What is God’s response to our evil against each other? We are told that God grieved and regretted making humans. Genesis 6:5,6

 Honestly, when you look at human history, and you see what the Nazi’s did in killing 6 million Jews, or the communists in Russia did in killing a least 20 million people, or the Chinese communists in killing 75 millions Chinese— (and this is just a short list–there are so many, many more atrocities), don’t you wish for some justice—a little wrath of God bringing about the end of this evil!

That was what Jonah was wishing for against the Ninevites.  The Ninevites were enemies of the Israelites and Jonah hated them. So when God told Jonah to go to them and tell them, their end was near—and they should repent– Jonah didn’t want to go.  He knew God.  He knew God was kind and merciful, and that if the Ninevites repented – God would spare them.  He wanted the Ninevites to die!!   You know the story—Jonah disobeyed God—got swallowed by a great fish–the great fish spit Jonah up on the shore of the Ninevites–and Jonah preached his message of doom and repentance.  (The Ninevites had just seen this guy come out of a giant fish–so that lent Jonah a certain credibility–they ended up repenting—and were saved.)  Jonah was sad–he wanted to see justice not mercy.  God was tender with Jonah–God understood Jonah’s desire for justice, but God wanted Jonah to understand God’s desire for mercy.

Actually–there are plenty of times throughout Biblical History where justice was served, and wrath was delivered.   But, these times were after God endured with great patience, many, many atrocities.  

Our sin against each other–our evil against each other, brings about God’s wrath.

Why?  Because God loves us, and He can’t stand to see this evil.  He knows how much we hurt each other.  If we are so bent on destroying each other, He will eventually take the option out of our hands.   I also think God grieves, because He made us in His image—until sin destroyed and distorted us.  Just as we are capable of great evil, we are also capable of great nobility and good.  How He grieves to see His image distorted in us—how He yearns to bring us back into a relationship with Him, and restore us to who He meant us to have been all along.

Why does this God of wrath seem so different from the God of love that we see through Jesus?

Actually, this God of wrath is not at all different than this God of love.  

When Jesus went to the cross and took all the sins of the world upon HImself, the Father’s wrath was unleashed upon Jesus.  Jesus said, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46

Jesus—the second person of the Trinity–God in human flesh– experienced all the wrath of God for your sin and for my sin and for all of our sins.

Since that time, we have been living in a time of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  God wishes for none to perish, but for all to come into repentance.2 Peter 3:9

God has been continually reaching out to us with arms of love and forgiveness.   Apart from God and His Spirit and His power—we are essentially the same humans we have always been—capable of great evil, and deserving of great wrath.   With God’s spirit and power, His image is restored in us.  

It is only in understanding who we are–and how much we need what God is offering to us that we can really appreciate the great gift offered to us through Jesus.  

 Many people have a difficult time believing in God’s forgiveness and love–they feel undeserving of it.  I’m here to say–they are not deserving of it, neither am I, nor is anyone:

”For by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8,9

God’s forgiveness and love are a gift, we can not work for it, we can not earn it.

“ For The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

We earn and deserve eternal death for our sins, but God is giving us life through what Jesus has done for us.  It is a gift—we receive this gift by faith.  Prayer is a way to express this faith.

Here is a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need You.   Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.   Thank you for the gift of your life, for the gift of eternal life.   Please come into my life, and make me into the person, You created me to be.  Amen.

Here is a link you can go to to find out more about growing in this relationship with God:  startingwithGod.com   Remember, God wants to restore each of us to who He meant us to be all along.  

As always–May we be encouraged!!

**Picture is of Milwaukee’s skyline