|The Incredible Hulk and the Wrath of God|
Recently, I watched the movie The Avengers. Normally, I’d give you a running list of all the good and bad aspects of the movie, but this time, I want to draw your attention to something else... SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read any more of this post if you don’t want to know the ending…
At the end of The Avengers, something happens that surprises everyone (unless, of course, you were paying attention to all of the foreshadowing…but that’s not the point). The Incredible Hulk, who manages to keep from getting angry throughout most of the movie, actually ends up saving the day because he gets angry, morphs into a green monster and channels his anger toward the aliens that are trying to destroy the world. You could say the aliens got a taste of the Incredible Hulk’s wrath.
Have you ever heard someone talk about the wrath of God?
The word wrath means passionate anger. Yes, God gets passionately angry. God’s wrath is mentioned nearly 200 times in the Bible.
Some people are afraid of God’s wrath. They’re afraid that when God becomes passionately angry, they are in trouble because that anger is going to be directed toward them. But that’s not exactly what the Bible says.
Romans 1:18 reads, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the GODLESSNESS and WICKEDNESS of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
Did you catch that? God’s anger is directed toward godlessness and wickedness...although some people will get a taste of God’s wrath because they choose to absorb wickedness and godlessness and try to keep other people from the truth. When God finally destroys wickedness (the Bible calls it God’s “strange act”), people who have chosen to align themselves with wickedness will be destroyed along with it.
What kinds of wickedness make God passionately angry?
...You know how some people are judgmental and critical and self-righteous and try to make it hard for other people to know Jesus? God gets passionately angry about that.
...You know how some people abuse kids and treat them like they’re not worth anything? God gets passionately angry about that.
...You know how it feels when someone you love dies and you cry until you have no tears left? God gets passionately angry about that.
...You know the way some people make others feel like there’s no way they will ever be saved? God gets passionately angry about that.
...You know how some people mistreat their pets and other animals? God gets passionately angry about that.
...You know how there are children who are going to bed tonight hungry because they don’t have food to eat? God gets passionately angry about that.
And so should we.
Like the Incredible Hulk, God’s wrath is about justice and vengeance for wickedness. It’s used to protect and vindicate those who are victims of evil.
Unlike the Incredible Hulk, God doesn’t lose His temper and blow up. He doesn’t act impulsively. The characteristics of God’s Spirit include self-discipline and patience—and consequently, those characteristics also govern His wrath.
It’s not a perfect analogy, and our God could never be reduced to a comic book character; but Jesus used all kinds of “characters” to represent God, including a father, a businessman, a farmer, a woman, a shepherd (and the list goes on), so I think it’s fair to use a contemporary character to explore one aspect of who God is.
In the beginning of the movie, the other Avengers are afraid of the Incredible Hulk, because they are afraid that if he gets angry, he might turn his anger on them.
In the end of the movie, however, the Avengers aren’t afraid of him at all—not even when he is huge and green and growling and grabbing alien ships out of the sky and smashing them on the ground. Why? Because he’s on their side.
Yes, there is such a thing as the wrath of God. But the Bible says that God isn’t willing that anyone should experience it. Instead, He wants to protect us from and vindicate us for every terrible thing sin has done to us. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s wrath, because He’s on our side.