He asked … "What makes you burn with righteous anger?"
We were studying the third chapter of Mark. Jason, our pastor, paused at the fifth verse to point out that Jesus was angry and deeply distressed. Jesus was angry at the stubborn hearts of those who chose legalism over compassion. They were in the synagogue yet people were spending their time looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. They watched him closely. And despite the consequences, He did it anyway. He healed a man's shriveled hand on a Sabbath. Jesus declared that life was of supreme value. And because of His display of kindness, compassion and mercy, the plot began - the plot to kill Him. Crazy, isn't it?
Righteous anger, honorable anger towards the same things that make God angry, can be used for ultimate good. This kind of anger reflects God's heart to a world consumed by selfishness.
Could it be that God places within each of us a unique passion for different people groups or needs?
I look around my church and see some who are passionate for the oppressed. Others fight for the abandoned and rejected. Others react with holy anger towards those who abuse women and children. I have a friend with a tender heart for teenagers. Another friend loves to care for the elderly. Another is falling in love with incarcerated women. I ran into another lady I haven't seen in years who shared with me that she is being drawn - no, compelled to show Christ's love to the Muslims in our community.
There is so much brokenness in this world. Big issues. Complex issues. We can become so overwhelmed that we bury our heads in the sand. We turn off the news and turn on the sitcoms. We cocoon ourselves by surrounding ourselves with people who think just like we do and who do not ask tough questions. But the problem is, if we succumb to feelings of powerlessness, we don't propel the gospel forward. We just wind up as grumblers and complainers - ineffective and useless.
Jason reminded the church that our righteous anger should draw us to God's mission for us. God has chosen to make His appeal to the world through His people. And we are to step into our mission with power and confidence, trusting that God will do the equipping.
I've thought about the question a lot. And I've posed it to countless friends over the past two weeks. "What makes you burn with righteous anger?"
For me, its lies.
I am angry that a young man I know believes the lie that he isn't of value because his mom abandoned him.
I am angry that a teenage girl I met believed that since she gave her heart to a guy and he left her when she got pregnant, she was not worthy of intimate, lasting love. She heard the lie that she did not deserve a second chance.
I am angry that my friend who had an abortion as a teenager, does not think she is worthy of God's love and doesn't believe God could every forgive her.
I am angry that silly magazines with air-brushed photos lie to both men and women about what makes a person beautiful.
I am angry at the porn industry for the lies that are taking captives.
I am angry about the lies that promise escape by self-medicating or that promise joy with drug use.
I am angry that people are brainwashed with lies about who their enemies are.
So what can I do with this righteous anger? How do I wage war on the father of lies, the devil (John 8:42-44)? He lied to Adam and Eve. And he is still at it.
The lies are so rampant that I opt to speak truth to women. This is where I look for opportunities. Divine appointments. After all, I am a woman susceptible to the same falsehoods.
How will I go to battle? Following the One who is Truth, Jesus. He leads. I follow. I choose to use His Word because I know "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16)
Yet, when one pours their energy into one area, he or she risks criticism within the Church. Why, oh why, Church? Why must we bicker with one another about who's mission is of the most value? Aren't we called to go to the front lines for the passion that God placed in each of us, instead of fighting with one another? Can't we encourage one another? Can't we support one another?
We need people fighting for the veterans. We need people fighting for refugees. We need people fighting for the orphans. We need people fighting for those locked in grief. We need people fighting for single moms trying to provide for their children. We need people providing for the homeless. We need people fighting for souls.
We need to fight, church, fight! Not with one another, but with the enemy.
Oh yeah, I recognize that I also get angry when the Church acts like spoiled babies instead of mature brothers and sisters. Let us be the Church on mission for our King. May His kingdom reign on earth as it is in heaven. Amen!