Temple Anger

I have to admit, I get angry. Sometimes I get angry with good reason. Sometimes I get angry for no reason. Sometimes I am angry because of things done to me. Sometimes I am angry because of things done to others. Sometimes I am angry because things aren’t done. Sometimes I get angry because things are done wrong. Sometimes I get angry because I am in pain. Sometimes I get angry because I feel nothing. I’m not always angry but sometimes I am and in my smugness it isn’t difficult for me to feel I have every right to be angry.

Anger is okay isn’t it, after all, Jesus got angry.

Yes, Jesus got angry. He must have been really angry. He was outnumbered and yet it appears that no one tried to stop Him. He flipped tables in what must have appeared to be the actions of a half-crazed man. He made statements about the misuse of His father’s house that must have made even His closest followers question His sanity. If Jesus got this angry, it must be oaky for me to get a little angry.

The amount of times I hear people defending their anger as acceptable by relating it to the clearing of the Temple makes me think that the WWJD bracelets were created around this one incident. What would Jesus do? He would yell out His opinion and flip tables so I guess stating my displeasure in the loudest voice possible while acting in a threatening manner is what I should do.

One story of Jesus’ anger is not the basis for the creation of doctrine.

I would never argue that Jesus sinned. I would never call into question His perfection. I will however, call into question practicing anger as some type of spiritual discipline based on being like Jesus. The very fact that Jesus did not sin placed boundaries on Jesus’ actions. His perfection both drove and limited what He did. He did not act out of hate nor did He seek vengeance. It is dangerous to think that we too can allow this level of emotion to be released without crossing a line.

I am not saying don’t get angry.

I am not really sure it is possible to never get angry. Anger is an emotion that, when filtered through the limitations of Christ like behaviour rather than unleashed without so much as a second thought, can play a role in making things right. The problem lies in our lack of perfection and our inability to separate our personal feelings from true injustice. We get hurt and we fight back by upping the level of hurt. We are not making things right or better but rather attempting to make someone else wrong or more injured than us. It is the nature of our fallen state.

Anger is not to be defended but rather questioned.

When I get angry my first reaction should be to ask some tough questions no matter how right I am in my own mind rather than assume that the Temple clearing is the example I need to follow.

Is my anger warranted? It is easy to assume just because I feel angry I have a right to be angry when in fact often we are angry because of something else that happened before or a misunderstanding of what is happening now.

Is God angry at what I am angry at? If we really want to cling to the Temple clearing defence we better be sure that God is just as angry as we are at what is going on.

Is my anger better left as a feeling rather than turning it into an action?  There are some things that are just situational. We are angered but no action, or words are needed. In fact, if we take action we just extend the situation causing more anger to build.

Can I express my anger with descriptive words rather than verbal attacks? It’s worth a try! Expressing what you feel: hurt, ignored, betrayed etc. at an appropriate time (sometimes it is best to bite your tongue and wait a while) can allow for resolution.

Unless you are Jesus it is best you leave the tables where they are.

In His perfection, Jesus knew the hearts of those He aimed His anger at. In His perfection Jesus knew the affect His actions and words would have on those who witnessed them. In His perfection Jesus knew that God was equally as angry at the actions of the money changers in the Temple as He was. In His perfection Jesus responded with no more and no less anger than what was required for this situation.

When you can do the same, when you can, out of perfection respond with the appropriate level of anger, feel free to go for it but I for one will remain sceptical that this will never be the case for me.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

 

2 comments

  1. I confess to having anger issues. A quote from A. W. Tozer has helped. Not exact, but “Are you really angry at the person or situation or are you really angry at God for allowing this obstacle to be in your path?” Ouch. You asked if God was angry at what we were angry, but to think that we might be angry at God, when God allowed that obstacle to be there to teach us something – that is even worse. We lose our cool and lose an opportunity for growth at the same time.

    Yet, I still get angry. Thanks. This one will be a focus of prayer today.

    Liked by 1 person

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