We think it makes God more palatable if we only promote Him as a God of love. Yet, a man who is not apt to condemn evil, punish oppressors, discipline his children, protect and defend his wife against disrespect, hate, violence, can hardly be called a man of love. The same is true of the God of the Bible, who meted out the most painful degree of wrath in human history upon his own Son, because He loves.
Most people in our culture recoil at the idea of God’s wrath. The well-known [Yale] theologian, Miroslav Volf, once did too, until he experienced the brokenness of the world in some of the most horrific ways. In his book, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, he writes:
I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where over 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandparently fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love (138-139).