The April 2013 Journal of Religion and Health published a study finding that people who believe God to be angry are more likely to suffer from anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. The study sought to discover if there were any correlations between how we understand God to be and how we live. And sure enough, people who view God as being benevolent have a much lower chance of struggling with mental illness.
And if you’re out there thinking: “Whew! I’m glad I’m an atheist – so I don’t even need to expose myself to those consequences” …Well, not so fast. According to research, even belief in an angry God is still better for mental health and life-expectancy than no belief in God.
But the big question remains: How do you view God? Unfortunately, many of us tend to go by our feelings. Some days, we feel like God loves us. Other days, we feel like he’s waiting to strike us with thunderbolts. That’s why it’s sooooo important that we stay fresh with God’s Word.
Of course, the Biblical view of God is that He is “slow to anger, abounding in love” (Exod. 34:6). In other words, God specifically went out of his way to explain that it’s hard to make him angry. And the Bible repeats this theme constantly.
Don’t get me wrong, God does get angry. Like any loving Father, he gets upset when we consistently ignore his opportunities to choose life. But this doesn’t happen as easily as some people think.
Keep in mind, like I wrote in my book Pharisectomy, God’s love for us isn’t based on our behavior. It’s based on “Christ in us” (Col.1). In other words, when we’re in Christ, God doesn’t see you or me (& all the silly things we do). Rather, he sees Christ, who died for our forgiveness. Even more, the Bible shows that God is patiently waiting for more people to understand this amazing offer (2 Peter 3:15).
So, stop acting like God’s love changes like the weather. He has a much more consistent type of love. And when you experience this, you too will walk in a much more consistent type of love! It’s actually quite a bit easier to love all of those irritating people in our lives. You’ll no longer simply “love those who love you.” And here’s why: Our love will also be based on Christ (and not behavior). You’ll discover that you too will exclusively love people simply because Christ died for them (as your love for Christ will be overwhelming). Whether people accept our love is ultimately irrelevant; because our goal is simple: to look like Love.
So, if your emotions are a roller-coaster today, stop and think about the God of Scripture. Meditate on all the amazing aspects of God’s personality. Chances are, you’re going to experience a peace that simply doesn’t make sense. And that peace is going to flow onto everyone around you.
April 2013 Journal of Religion and Health