God Wants Me to Be Angry
Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers . . . Matthew 21:12
I once listened to another Christian angrily vent about how someone had offended him. His story made it sound like his frustration was justified, but his tone and words were profoundly ugly. Another brother listening, challenged the first. That doesn’t sound very Christ-like. At this, the offended one indignantly declared that his fury was from God himself. I have a righteous anger!
I didn’t feel confident enough in my own opinion to express it, but that didn’t sound quite right. Being frustrated was one thing but speaking evil of others seemed to be the equivalent of a grown-up tantrum. I didn’t get my way, I’m furious, and now, I’m going to blame God! It’s not uncommon for Christians to take this tactic when angry. Even Jesus got angry. Usually, they quote today’s passage, in which Christ, did indeed, drive the profiteers from the temple.
If Jesus did it, then so can I.
I’m not even going to waste time on everything wrong with that statement. I will say – I’ve said it many times before – that anger is a drug. When we indulge in it, we do and say things we would never do otherwise. Anger intoxicates to the point where we actually think we are doing God’s work. God has filled me with this rage. He wants me to say and do evil things. I’m a vessel for his wrath.
There are things that should make us angry. Sex trafficking, child abuse, and racism should make us mad. The problem is, we’re rarely as angry at the injustice around us as we are at the perceived injustice to ourselves. When our will is thwarted, we’re far more angry than we are about starving children in Africa. Even if we manage to be angry about the right things, our response is usually to return evil for evil. We claim our anger is Christ-like, but if the only time we’re acting like Jesus is in our anger, we’re doing it wrong. God never asks us to sin for him.
Jesus did get angry, but to claim that we’re Godly when we’re lashing out in rage is usually ridiculous. If we struggle with anger, then, as with all our struggles, we must daily abandon it to truly follow Christ.
Funny enough, I just used this reference on Friday at the ‘Faith in recovery’ meeting at Harvest. We are going through a workbook that goes a long with a recovery Bible. One of the questions asked whether or not we surround ourselves with people who are critical or people who encourage truth? I didn’t think it reasonable to put anyone in an either/or category and used the example of Christ with the money changers as an example.
When I read this, I did a quick gut check on what exactly I was trying to say. I have had situations with righteous anger but I don’t think I have ever come out the other side of a situation where I had been angry and felt good about it. Not even when I have handled myself well.
I’m in the same place. I know there is a righteous anger, but I have a hard time coming up with an example of when I got anger “just right”. Thanks Joe! Good to hear from you.