The church service had just ended, and I was watching all the families and friends interacting and enjoying each other. It was a very pleasant moment, which was about to be harshly interrupted.
I was just standing there, minding my own business, when I was approached by an elderly woman who was looking upon the same scene as me, but with obvious disdain. Suddenly and without warning she blurted out that most of these people probably aren't even 'saved,' and that makes them all 'wicked!' And worse yet, God is angry with the wicked every day!
Being kind of an introvert, this kind of thing usually forces my hand to run to the car. But for some reason I decided to engage... mostly out of morbid curiosity.
"Really," I said. "Why do you believe that God is angry with these people?"
With the skill of a seasoned juggler she took her ancient Bible in one hand, held it in her palm and without even touching it her Bible fell open to Psalm 7:11. While she never broke eye contact with me she stabbed her bony little finger into that exact verse and she screeched, "Because the Bible says so right here! The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it!"
Psalm 7:11 God [is] a just judge, And God is angry [with the wicked] every day.
"Really," I replied, "I'm not so sure."
Her eyes squeezed to an angry squint, and at that moment I'm certain that I joined the ranks of the "wicked" in her mind. Strangely, she seemed much more interested in being angry than getting me 'saved.'
Being "Grace Aware" (and being just a bit of a wise guy), I immediately got the "pinch" when she quoted that Old Testament verse from Psalms. Whenever I hear something that doesn't match up with what I already believe about God, I know that one of two things is going on: either God is being misrepresented, or my understanding about God needs to change.
"Have you ever actually 'read' that verse?" I asked.
"Of course I have. It's my life verse!" OK, she didn't actually say that, but that's what I heard.
"Do you notice anything funny about that verse?" I asked.
"There's nothing 'funny' about the Bible, Mister!" she fumed back. I didn't know that 'venom' was a Spiritual gift.
"Look at the phrase 'with the wicked.' Do you notice anything different about that phrase from the rest of the text?"
She reacted the same way that most people do when they encounter the Grace Aware study method. Of course, she didn't realize that she was getting a free lesson.
"You mean the square brackets?" she asked, with a somewhat softer tone.
"Yeah those. Do you know what they mean?" I noticed that she was pondering a bit.
"Yes," she replied with a question mark in her reply. "That means it's not there in the original text."
"Exactly" I confirmed. "It means that the translators put it there in an attempt to make things clearer. Sometimes they get it right..." I let my statement trail off without finishing.
"So what does that mean?" I told her that I'd look it up for her in the Young's Literal Translation using my iPad Blue Letter Bible app. She was very surprised at what she read:
Psalm 7:11 YLT - God [is] a righteous judge, And He is not angry at all times.
Did you catch the difference? I know that she did.
We dive into this verse more deeply in the Grace Aware training, but I hope that there's one less angry Christian in the world.