When I read the Scripture for the message this week I thought about how easy it is ... to demonize other people ... to feel the power of hate that gives false/righteous energy ... to set myself up as judge of others ... to let my anger overwhelm me so that my witness for Christ is lost. Jesus tells us, in Matthew 5:22 "I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder" (The Message). Why would Jesus say such a thing? Because anger, like gateway drugs, leads to other things ... some of them terrible things.
Anger lies to us about many things but three of them are as evident as the nose on our face if we are willing to see ourselves honestly. Here they are ...
1. Anger blocks my view of other people. I can't see God's creative imprint in others when I tell myself they are worthy of my righteous indignation. I place myself above them and they become less important, less human, less worthy, less good than me. Anger makes sure that I cannot relate to them. And THAT is Satan's greatest desire. God's greatest commandment is to love God and love others like we love ourselves. Satan's plan is to block those love relationships. Anger is Satan's vehicle to make that happen.
2. Anger blocks my view of myself. When I am angry I place myself above other people. When I am angry my views trump other views. In reality anger allows narcissism to take root and distance others from me, telling me my views are superior.
3. Anger blocks my view of God. In life we must be discerning of what is happening around us. Sometimes we move from discernment to judgment. And when we judge we displace God, who is worthy and righteous to judge us all. God does not share His duties and His rights with me.
All of this sounds like telling children to control their anger. You might even ask, "Why does this matter to adults?" Because we have anger issues in this nation. Some blame TV for teaching us to deal with anger by taking matters into our own hands. Some blame movies, video games and the media. Maybe all of these are factors in anger. But I will go back to evil itself. I wonder if all of these things are footholds for Satan to edge into our lives ... get into our heads ... become part of our daily life. We are told by talking heads in to media that another person's actions are "unconscionable." We allow ourselves to be drawn into a we-and-they mindset. We buy into the idea that "they" should pay for their words and/or actions. We fail to look back at all the thoughts, actions and mistakes we should pay for as well. We get angry and our society tells us it is right to both be livid and take action. Some of those actions have made national news. An angry narcissist holes up in a hotel and shoots people at a concert because he has mustered up righteous anger. A kid walks into a church in Charleston and shoots people with whom he angrily differed. Angry athletes feel it is their right to angrily protest, probably by disrespecting people/things/symbols they are not even angry at. In all of these things Paul gives us some of the best advice about anger ever ... "I have the right to do anything' you say, but not everything is beneficial." Anger is one of those things that, in most all applications, is best left to God who will choose perfectly when, how and why to be angry. Randy