“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)
“There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” I often find that people are afraid of God, they think he is angry with them. They are sinners after all, and everything they instinctively know about God, tells them they should not be sinning, and so they try to hide using fig leaves. You can’t hide from God, you can run from him, but you can’t hide. He knows what you have done. And he does burn with anger toward sin. He cannot abide it.
However there is another side to him. He is restless for you. Augustine talks of his heart not finding rest until it found rest in God. There is truth to that. But even more so for God. You belong to him. Yes, God owns you. Not only because he created you, but because he spilt his blood for you. And he did that because he knows your sin, and still loves you. He doesn’t want to be angry with you, he has gone to great lengths to reconcile himself to you in his Son Jesus Christ.
So it is not anger that greets a sinner darkening the door of church, but love and joy. The angels rejoice. God is ecstatic. Joy abounds. The sinner who repents, not that he is able to put all his sin aside, but simply that he learns to trust in the forgiveness of sins, and realizes that God is not angry with him, but loves him.