An act of extreme violence or viciousness.
I’m reminded of a story, where for no fault of their own, a person was killed. It was senseless without any reason. Only God knows what actually happened, but from all accounts, the victim did nothing to instigate the violence. So while the tragedy was the loss of life, it was aggravated as there was no obvious reason for the loss of human life. Outrageous right?
As a follower of Christ, I’m daily reminded of the millions of babies murdered through abortion around the world. Again, it’s senseless, no rational person would kill a baby. But we have a culture that calls it a ‘choice’ and ignores the science of human development. Of course, there’s going to be outrage, especially by Christ-followers. Abortion is one of the great sins of America and the world. So what can be done? Since abortion was socially accepted through Roe vs. Wade, there have been numerous approaches to stopping abortion, many in the name of Christ. There are legislative actions, sit-ins, prayers, pro-life counseling, marches all to promote life and speak against the act of killing babies in the womb. There has also been violence against those who perform abortions. Outrageous right?
As Christ-followers, when we see injustice or acts that we perceive as outrageous, what do we do? We can often feel helpless because of tragedy can seem so large. Why in the world doesn’t God stop it!? That in and of itself can be a reason to be angry.
So, what does the Bible say about anger?
Ephesians 4:25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one another. 26“Be angry, yet do not sin.”dDo not let the sun set upon your anger, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.
We are human. We are also fallen, meaning born of sin and separated from God. Those two facts leave us with a lot of human emotion, a lot of it not so bad, but some not so good. Including anger which can turn into outrage. We become angry. And often that comes from feeling helpless, sad, or being offended. What is our example as Christ-followers?
We can look at Jesus when he was betrayed.
Matthew 26:53Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
Jesus knew that coming to earth was to go through a gruesome death, being betrayed and crucified by the very people he loved. He knew the pain was coming but did he take out his anger on us? Instead he endured all of it for us. #hallelujah
As for us, we can’t even get past someone’s comment that somehow offends us, instead, we lash out. Often more than not we fail to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. If someone offends us, what is our response? We’ve all seen those on social media that curse, ‘yell with CAPS’ at the smallest offense. Or we’ve lashed out at someone only to regret it later. Or maybe we rant about the injustice without ever pointing to God when given a chance. In a world of tragedy, injustice, and pain, it can be challenging not to become angry, even outraged. And sometimes, we can be full of judgment with little to no grace or understanding.
Matthew 5:13-16 Common English Bible (CEB)
Salt and light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
This is a cornerstone scripture on how we should appear to the world. We are to be salt and light. We are to stand out. So how does this relate to anger or outrage for that matter?
Good question. So let’s examine our first example; a senseless murder. It is and should be common for Christ-followers to be angered about such an action. But what should be different about us vs non-Christ followers? How are we to stand out in our anger. Because angry we are going to be. But if we as Christ-followers are just angry in the same fashion as those who don’t follow Christ, how are we Salt or Light?
Our difference is in vs. 16, our light should shine so others see God and praise Him. So if we are just a part of an angry mob, on social media or otherwise, how does that point people to God in Heaven. It doesn’t. If on the other hand, we are being ‘salty,’ meaning ultimately use our anger to mention God, point to God, and putting our testimony on display during our anger, then we are being angry and not sinning.
The biggest risk though is to turn our anger into something that doesn’t glorify God. Take the second example; abortion. There is nothing righteous about it. We should speak out about God’s mercy for those who have had abortions, and speak against the progressive abortion industry. These are ways that we can take our anger and point to God. God is the ultimate giver of life. The damage comes when we don’t live a life or express a mantra that wraps our verbal anger in the compassion of Christ which points to God by default.
Anger is a big problem for humanity. There is so much harm that comes from unchecked anger. As Christ-followers, we risk losing focus on God and putting ourselves first by becoming angry in unhealthy ways. One question to ask is, if someone calls me on my anger, how will I point to God? If we can’t answer that question, then we should do a lot of praying asking God what to do with that thing that we are angry about.
One of the greatest roads anger can lead to is hate. And that’s something we know God prohibits. We are to love, we are to have compassion, we are not to compromise, but we always point past ourselves to God. So when we have anger, we have to slow our roll before we arrive at hate.
As Christ-followers we have to understand that in all things we are to point to God because he is the judge for humanity, we are just salt and light. We shouldn’t downplay or disregard our anger, as it’s an emotion we have to live with. Whether it be a disappointment in our own lives, something external, an offense by someone, a social injustice, or something else; we can remain Christ-followers and still acknowledge God in all things, even our anger. We just have to point to Him. Be angry and sin not.
About the author: Steven Davis is a musician, Bible school dropout, media producer, over-cooked preachers kid, and recovering social worker.