Recently, I heard a talk given by a widely known pastor in the Northwest whom I won't name because I don't want to draw any more attention to what he said than has already been given. His basic statement, which I believe was intended to shock his listeners into some sort of decision regarding their sin, was this:
"God hates some of you. Personally and objectively God hates some of you right now."
Much dialogue has happened since this statement was publicized yesterday, but it caused a great sense of pain in me.
The reason being that this is a theological statement. All that means is that it is a statement about God's nature and character and action. Theology has been considered in the past to be an academic exercise - something that only affects the way you think about God.
And yet, theology matters well beyond the grey matter in our skull. It matters because
How do you live for, love, obey, and follow a God who "hates" you sometimes?
How do you pattern your life after Jesus, the Son of this God, who apparently wasn't let in on the secret that God hates "some" of us when we sin?
Theology matters - what you think about God matters - because the way we think about God will determine how we live for Him. This is why it's critical for us to get involved in reading and soaking in the story of the Bible. We can't understand God enough to respond to Him with our lives if we do not know what we think of Him.
Consequently, we can't be transformed (spiritual formation) into Christ-likeness unless we know what we're getting ourselves into.
Thinking that God hates us transforms us into guilty, fearful people.
Thinking that God loves us turns us into a person who lived in the freedom of God's love - namely Jesus.