Lately I find myself yelling at the television set. I get angry when I see the stunts pulled by our duly elected officials, and I get angry with the garbage foisted upon us as entertainment, and I get angry at the lack of civility in public discourse.
I know that God gets angry about some things too, but I also know that God doesn’t get angry is the same way that I get angry. I get righteously indignant and want to throw my shoe at the tube. Compared to “them” I think I’m a pretty good guy.
Somehow, I don’t think God expresses his anger in the same way I do, and certainly his motives are different. A few examples of Jesus’ anger illustrate the point:
• Mark 10:13-14 – Some followers of Jesus tried to bring their children to him, and Jesus was indignant when the twelve disciples tried to hinder them. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)
• John 2:13-17 – Jesus entered the temple around the time of the Passover. The people were bringing livestock for sacrifices as part of their religious service, but the rules required that the animals needed to be without blemish, For reasons known only to the inspectors, the animals the people brought always seemed to be blemished, and it so happened that the Temple had unblemished animals to sell at premium prices. But the people could only buy these animals with temple money, not Roman coin, because the Roman coin was unclean. Of course the exchange rate offered for temple money was, shall we say, inflated. Jesus saw this abuse of people coming to worship and honor God, made a scourge of small cords, and drove out both the moneychangers, the livestock, and disrupted their little scam.
• Mark 3:1-5 -- Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and approached a man with a withered hand, determined to heal him. No one would commit to admitting that healing on the Sabbath was an honor to God rather than an affront to him, and Jesus “looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their heart,” and then proceeded to heal the man.
• Matthew 23:13-33 – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” They put stumbling blocks in the way to God and wouldn’t so much as lift a finger to lighten the burden.
Consistently, Jesus directed his anger at those who used religion as a means of control or personal advantage rather than as a stepping stone to a relationship with God. He refused to countenance anything that restricted access to him or his Father. That’s a good thing to be angry about,
But there is also more to the story, and this is where I come up lacking. When Jesus healed the man in the synagogue, it says he was both angered and grieved. Feel not just the passion of his anger, but also the intensity of his love. We can almost hear him saying, “Don’t you folks get it? God’s rules aren’t willy-nilly restrictions designed to control. They are the supreme expression of his love. They are to draw you closer to God, but you use them to build a wall of separation.” Then he healed the man.
Solomon wrote: “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NKJV) It is also wise to be angry at the right things and for the right reasons.
Lenny Cacchio is a resident of Lee’s Summit. He blogs at http://morningcompanio nblogspot.com/.