Monday, March 07, 2016

Welch's Questions on Anger

I spoke at Grace Church on Anger, observing Saul's murderous heart towards David (1 Samuel 19:1-16), and the way that Jesus says...
[21] “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  
[22] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;
Jesus "the good teacher" puts us firmly on the hook defining our anger as murder. We forfeit our lives when we kill others in our hearts. If we only take Jesus as a teacher we're in deep trouble. We need Jesus the murdered God, the innocent one who forfeited his life for us - a perfect exchange that gives us his life for ours, and shows us the different way of love.

We might not want what Jesus gives, but the murderous state of the human heart needs acknowledging and answering some how.

Where our anger leads us to harm others - in murder or countless other horrific acts - there are and must be consequences - that's why we have criminal law - but there is also the opportunity, in light of those consequences, for a new start with Jesus.

Anger needs to be resolved between me and God, and between me and other people. Imagine a society where genuine reconciliation was possible?

Ed Welch asks some penetrating questions:
  • Do you enlarge the category of anger to include you?
  • Do you include details from the Sermon on the Mount?
  •  Have you recently confessed your anger, to both God and the injured person?
  • Have you asked those closest to you, “When have you seen me angry recently?”
  •  When will you ask them?
  •  Is the real cause of your frustration/anger usually something or someone other than you?
  • Do you understand the real cause is not “Them” but really “I want and I’m not getting what I want”?
  • Do you know that Jesus was never angry because of something done to him?
  • Do you care?
  • Are you ever wrong?
  •  “Do you have a right to be angry?” 
The last of those questions was asked of Jonah. Jonah was angry because of God's kindness to other people.  That pesky deity forgiving those people... though is it really circumstance or persons who cause our trouble?

Martin Luther
“We foolishly blame our anger on people or situations that trouble us. Trouble doesn’t make us angry, but proves that we are angry. Let us learn from trouble the state of our hearts.”  
I'm tempted to sweep my anger under the carpet, to leave it festering at the back of the fridge like a forgotten yoghurt pot waiting to explode... or to take it out on the pavement as I run. Neither seems like great treatment for deep heart disease - for as Jesus would say - the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart...

Credit to Jonah: in his anger he went to God in prayer, meeting him in the middle of his sin.
“True prayer should pour out the whole soul and every inward feeling before him.” John Calvin 
 More here: The Angry Person: Always the last to know
Image: Creative Commons - Caleb Roenigk 

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