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February 25, 2008

Food for Thought - Feb 25 2008

Should crusaders strive to "stay angry"? It's a bad idea. Someone once said that staying angry is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. If your cause is just, you would still find the energy to fight for it even without anger. You just wouldn't be self-righteous about it. The worst effect of self-righteous anger is the inner damage. It distorts your clarity about your own sinfulness and undermines your humility. Jesus told us to love our enemies and demonstrated it by asking his Father to forgive his murderers. Christians' failure to emulate such forgiveness is one of the clearest examples of G. K. Chesterton's line that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

Excerpted from an article in Anger Management, a downloadable resource from Gifted For Leadership.


Who can argue that Chesterton's evaluation is correct? Even the most "dedicated" Christians I know don't tend to live the Christian life as the Bible presents it. If we really lived in the truth of it all we would not have our spells of grumbling, complaining and wondering "why". We would not spend our lives working to get set for retirement on the short side of our existence. We'd believe it when God says tithe, don't make unholy alliances, teach your children the Scriptures. It is my opinon, having been around the mountain several times, that nearly none of us, if any of us, live the Christian life as we are instructed to do because it is difficult. Worth it? Yes. But we fail to recognize that we live in a Kingdom and the King is absolute Sovereign, we think we live in a democracy where we vote you in and we vote you out; if we don't like God's ideas, we'll just call them ancient and not applicable. If we ever get revived or alive, the world will be a different and better place. Fortunately, this is the short side of our existence. That is a serious fact to consider.

The longer we nurture anger in our hearts, the sooner it will turn to bitterness. Bitterness will eventually eat us up. Ephesians 4:32 says "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath(or anger)." We should not let anger remain in our spirits from one day to the next, but for our own good - take care of it!

Anger is a valuable, God-given response to (among other things) injustice -- injustice that we, ourselves, suffer, or injustice towards other that we witness. In fact, since God hates injustice, and righteousness is the opposite of unjustness, perhaps we could reasonably call this kind of anger "righteous anger". However, anger -- righteous or unrighteous -- is not hostility; nor does it give us a license to respond to perpetrators with hostility. Rather, anger in response to injustice simply mobilizes us to attempt to change an unjust situation.

Thus, faithful Christian activists against injustice (i.e., those who follow Jesus's command to love our enemies) will experience anger when we see or experience injustice -- not once, but often, if not every time. Therefore, it isn't even necessary that we strive to remain angry -- we simply will be. But that does not give us license to feel or behave with hostility and/or to commit injustices towards the perpetrators of the injustice, a.k.a. our enemies -- and enemies of the ethics of God's not-yet-AND-now Kingdom. As Jesus said, we are to love our enemies, but we must also continue to define them as enemies until they change their behavior, or the environment in which they operate changes so as to prevent, "outlaw", and/or punish their unjust practices.

Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrated these ideas: when he began to demonstrate against the injustices that members of his church and his community suffered from whites simply because they were black, he insisted that all of the demonstrators commit to loving not only the whites who had been unjust, but also those who would, undoubtedly, physically assault the demonstrators as they marched. Because he and his co-resisters practiced Jesus's teaching and loved those who attacked them by not responding in kind, the injustice of Southern-style racism was starkly displayed to the world, the cause of civil rights (=justice) for African-Americans in every community was taken up by additional black AND white US citizens, laws were changed, and progress was made against the enemies of justice and for non-white persons. And, as everyone says again and again, we now -- 45 years later -- have a black man in serious contention for the Presidency.

Though God has, indeed, brought us all from a mighty long way, racism does continue. I am more concerned about the "accepting," do-nothing attitude towards those who perpetrate that injustice than I am about the anger that Christian activists feel when they observe the same perpetrators in action. The Bible says that God is angered by, hates, and acts to stop injustice AND self-beneficial hostility. So am I and so do I. So may all of His people, I pray.

i agree with Robin. now this is all my own 2 cents: God hates cowards. I don't know about anyone else, but I can stay angry for eternity against the devil and his legions of demons and the dirty work, the evil they and through people around me in the world, and heck even in me (blush) for that matter. I am a christian woman, and i know that i will never grow tired of hating the devil and evil... yes that stuff is repulsive and it's terrible. i don't want to be a maimed emotionaless robot, cheesy christian with a fake composure...GET REAL!!!as a woman who endured abuse from a christian husband, and got out, i say to everyone, quit with your pat answers and condecesion... and deluded sense of reality, faith is certainly something that pleases God but not a reason to ignore reality. falseness doesn't please God. so rock on, all you real christians. let the energy propel you, i say.

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