Monday, March 12, 2012

Angry Jesus

I am so glad that the Revised Common Lectionary contains yesterday's Gospel.  Every time I read or hear this passage (or the parallels in Matthew, Mark and Luke), I remember something very important.  Anger, by itself, is not wrong.  It is wrath, what we can do with anger, that is a deadly sin.  Even Jesus got angry.
"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’" -John 2:13-17
 When I did Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) back in the summer of 2007, we spent a lot of time talking about feelings.  It seemed as though we were reminded every day that feelings, on their own, are never wrong or bad.  They may be based on a misperception or wrongly held belief, but it is the perception or belief that is wrong in these situations, not the feeling.  Anger is simply a feeling.

Yes, people can do horrible things because of anger.  As I said earlier, though, what we do with anger is what has the chance to be sinful.  "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil." -Ephesians 4:26-27  Anger doesn't have to lead to sin.  Like Jesus, we can be consumed with a righteous indignation and let that drive us to do good works.

What is it that makes you angry?  Not angry in the "I'm going to go out and destroy something" kind of way.  I mean angry in the "I refuse to stand for this injustice any longer" sense.  Find out what it is that causes righteous indignation to consume you and use that anger to take a stand against injustice.

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