Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Righteous Anger

Last week we kicked off our sermon series Seeing Red. We acknowledged that anger is present in everyone life. It can pop up sometimes without warning and have damaging effects. Luckily the Bible has a lot to say about anger.  Last week we outline five characteristics of anger. If you remember they were: Anger is not always bad. Anger makes us acceptable to greater dangers. Anger makes us do foolish things. Anger never produces what we hope it will. Anger is our own punishment.
Today we are going to look at the first one: Anger is not always bad. We are going to explore righteous anger. There are things in our life that should make us angry. Righteous anger can be defined simple as what makes God made should make us mad. We serve a God who created us, knows us, and loves us so whatever makes God angry should make us angry as well. Righteous anger however is never anger towards another person but only anger towards the problem. Because when we are mad at a problem we will be forced, moved, inspired to take action.
It’s no secret that I am a University of Memphis Tiger fan both football and basketball. Like all college sports we have our rivalries. I think every college team has them. But for Memphis in football it is Ole Miss, for you non southerners, Ole Miss is the University of Mississippi.  Ole Miss is less than an hour drive from the Memphis; they recruit in the Memphis area for players. Great High School football players go to Alabama, LSU, or UT. That leaves Memphis and Ole Miss to fight for the rest. Memphis fans dislike Ole Miss Fans. When Will was about four, we are at the game and Will is front row right behind the Ole Miss bench Will screams, “You Stink” every time they came off the field.  It was one of those moments where I was in front of them like, “Will don’t say that.” And then as soon as they leave I’m like “That’s my boy.” See the problem was not anger at the player from Ole Miss, it was anger at the problem of two opposing teams who compete in recruiting. Or the problem was a father taking college football to an unhealthy level. It’s not the person that causes us anger, it’s the problem. So what makes God anger? Simply put it is injustices.
There are two distinct kinds of injustices that make God angry and that should make us angry as well. First are universal injustices.  Those are things in our world that happen that should as follows of God should make us angry. Some people in our faith community have questioned me and my integrity of why are we spending all this money for a mission trip to Honduras. The risk of death for women during childbirth is nine times the rate in the United States.  One in every 40 children dies before their fifth birthday, triple the U.S. rate. One in 50 children dies before their first birthday, almost three times the U.S. rate. In Honduras 70% of the people are illiterate. Most children work in the field to help provide income. That should make you angry because these are children of God who did not ask to be born there. In our own city of Centralia, 1 in 6 kids are food insecure. Being Food insecure simple means lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times. Education. Kids in our community don’t have what they need to succeed in academics. Our kids are hurting and struggling and we automatically want to get mad at the teachers, the teachers get mad at the parents, and the kids just don’t want to go to school. Instead of getting mad at a person, righteous anger gets mad at the problem. 
The second kinds of injustices are personal injustices. These are things that happen to us on a person level. Addictions, alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse are things we witness and we like God should become angry at the problem, not always focused on the person. I want to be perfectly clear here, getting mad at the problem does not in no means automatically relinquish anyone from the responsibility of their actions caused by the problem. We have all witnessed how addictions have torn families apart and damaged innocent children that have lived it. We have all seen how specially in divorce people choose sides and blame the person, not the problem that caused the marriage to end. We must at time must zoom out and not focus all our attention on the person but look at the overall problem.

 So how do we know if our anger is righteous? The litmus test to see if our anger is righteous or is our anger is in line with Gods is three distinct characteristics.
Righteous anger is always, always anger under control. Proverbs 29:22 “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Because God created us, knows us, and loves us, God knows that deep inside of us, in real life, in real time, there is this thing called vengeance. You did something to me, buddy, I am going to do something more to you. It boils up side of us and we do things, say things, or plot ways to get back.  If our anger is not under control, we start conflict, we commit many sins, we do things that are not pleasing in the eye of God or others who are watching us.
Righteous anger motivates us when others are mistreated. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Over and over again throughout scripture Jesus tells us over and over again to look after the orphans and widows. You know what that means. Don’t just be listeners but be doers. You know what orphans and widows means. Jesus says anyone who can’t take care of themselves. In my life I have gotten into some stuff because I cannot just stand by when anyone who cannot defend themselves are being abused, taken advantage off or mistreated.
Righteous anger is motivated by the right reasons. Last week I stated that many times anger can be wrapped around the statement of “I’m not getting what I want.” Because we have this selfishness about us. Whenever anything is done in our life, in our faith community we say through our words, actions, and attitudes, “What am I going to get out of it.” When we have righteous anger, anger like God’s, we have selfless. It doesn’t matter if it will get us something down the road, it doesn’t matter if we get recognized, and it doesn’t matter if it will benefit us. Here is where God is going to mature us as a faith community. Genesis 1: 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Did you get this? You were created in God’s image. That means we are all created equally. We are created equally. Equally! God created each of us equally. That means in the eyes of God it doesn’t matter where we live, how much money we make, it doesn’t matter what race we are, or what language we speak, or what country we might have been born in. God hearts breaks whenever He sees his people in pain. I got to hear Eli Wessel speak; his is a Holocaust survivor and wrote the book called Night.  He said the true tragedy of the Holocaust was not that over 6 million Jews were slaughtered. It was the fact that 6 million Jews were slaughtered and no one cared. The greatest sin is indifference. God hearts breaks even more when He sees us witness people in pain, when we see people hurting, hungry, and broken and we do nothing about it. Then God’s righteous anger is turn towards us. When our anger is under control, when anger motivates us when others are mistreated, when anger inspires us into action for the right reasons, we then can make a difference and attack the problem. Maybe the problem is not that we get angry, maybe the problem is not that our anger is not righteous, maybe the problem is we get angry and do nothing..
Pray for me and I’ll pray for you..

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