Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Smash Room

One of the hardest questions that we wrestle with in our faith is the question of God's wrath. He claims to be a loving God, and we say that God is love, but there are so many stories in the Bible of what looks like rage, what looks like anger, what looks like absolute madness. This is one of the things that keeps many away from the Christian God; it seems hard to reconcile the two.

But what if it's not so hard?

Have you ever heard of a smash room? It's a new sort of thing where persons have opened up these places of businesses full of things you can just break. They'll even give you a hammer to do it. The whole room is breakable, and you simply pay a small fee to go in for a set period of time and destroy as much as you feel like destroying in whatever way you choose to destroy it.

And nobody gets mad. Oh, you go in mad, probably, but nobody gets mad about the things that you break. It's not like that plate was your mother's finest china. It's not like that window has to be replaced now. It's not like you took something that was near and dear to someone and devastated it (and them). No, the things in that room - every single one of them - are there to be broken. That's their purpose. That's what they do.

This image came to mind when I was reading Romans 9 recently. Paul talks about the people being upset that God seems to destroy so much, or that He seems to care for some things more than others.

What can we say - that God is unfair? That's unthinkable! ...If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can't he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? Can't God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory?

Reading this, I began to wonder - what if God created some things just to destroy them? What if God knew that His anger/wrath was a possibility, even would be a reality, so He put some things in creation just to take them out? What if there are some things in this world that are just pieces of God's own personal smash room?

Now, hear me out on this. Because just because something is made to be destroyed doesn't mean it can't be beautiful and useful and glorious. Just because it's what God decides to take His wrath out on doesn't mean it doesn't show us something of Him besides His wrath. You have to break a geode open to see all the beautiful sparkling facets on the inside. You have to crack an egg to get to the chick inside. Light has to break through water to reveal the rainbow. Creation is full of things that only get more beautiful, more glorious, once they are broken.

And if that's true, couldn't the same be true of God's wrath? Couldn't there be things in this world that He intended to break open to show His love all the brighter? At precisely the moment you think He can't take it any more, He reveals anew the depth of His heart for His breaking something open. By "destroying" it for His glory.

This matters. It matters immensely. Because if God, from the very beginning, created provision for His wrath, then He's not an impulsive God. He's not a reactive God. He's not an instinctive God. He doesn't just lash out at His people, at His world. He doesn't just stomp His foot on the floor, throw His hands up, and say, That's ENOUGH! I've had it up to here with you people!

Rather, He's a God who has hidden all of these beautiful little things in creation that, just at the very moment you think He can't stand you any more, He reveals His love again. Just when you think it's time to quit, He gives you a reason to keep going. Just when you think it's dark, He breaks through in light. He's a God who thought already of loving you even when you are unlovable, and He made sure that no matter what you think it looks like, it's love. Through and through.

All of a sudden, this God we're so scared of, this God we can't make sense of, this God we might want to cower in front of because He just seems so...unpredictable, so impulsive, so....He becomes this God who is still exactly who He says He is. Exactly. A loving God. An amazing, graceful, loving God who knew this moment was coming and was ready for it, for you.

This matters. Don't you see how this matters?

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