Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Righteous anger - A gift

When people talk about Jesus getting angry, they always seem to bring out the same passage of scripture - overturning the money changers in the temple.

As if that was the only time He ever got angry.

Sorry, but I think that's completely wrong.

Jesus got angry. Much more than once, and more than is mentioned in the Bible I think. People have this misconception that Jesus couldn't have got really angry, being the Son of God and a man of peace and self-control.

He was the Son of God. But he was a man as well - a man without sin. Meaning that any anger He had was the right kind. Sinless kind. Justified. Controlled. The kind of anger God would feel.

Yes, Jesus felt anger.

What about the constant frustrations He expressed with His followers?

Here's some quotes of Jesus from the gospels.
"Have you been with me so long, and you do still do not understand?"
"Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it"
"Do you still not understand?"

In Mark 1 it says He was 'indignant' when the leper came to Him for healing.

Jesus got angry.

He got frustrated.

He got annoyed.

His reasons though, were righteous. He expressed righteous anger, justified anger rather than the anger we often express which is merely down to us not getting our way.

There's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. Righteous anger is good, especially if it leads us into action . Into becoming more like Jesus. That's the real power of righteous anger, it works as an impetus for change in our lives. God uses it to change us, and when we feel righteous anger we share in the experience of Jesus and the experience of God.

Righteous anger is not sinful. Its the same anger God has. I expect God gets angry with all of us at times, but that's tempered with love, grace, mercy and the forgiveness we receive through the cross.

Selfish anger is all about us. Why aren't we getting what we want? Why are bad things happening to us? Why is our will being blocked? Its all about us.

Righteous anger is when something is wrong, when we see something unjust, sinful, or purely wrong going on in the world and react against it. When we get annoyed about things which aren't right, which displease God, things which God doesn't like. This anger isn't expressed through sin and selfishness, but through action. As we take action against injustice, against the problems of the world, we take that anger and use it as a channel for God's glory.

Lets try to cut down the selfish anger and feel more of that righteous anger - there's things which really aren't worth getting angry about, and lots of other things that are, and where we can make a difference.

We need to be in touch with righteous anger if we are going to be real agents of change in this world.

Justice, mercy, love, forgiveness, peace and grace. These are the things we should pursue. Where these things are absent, there's something wrong. Something God doesn't want. If we ask, if we think, there is surely something we can do in response too.

The right kind of anger channelled and used in the right kind of way is a gift from God, a powerful gift.

Lets not waste it.