The only people who are never angry are dead people – either dead literally, or dead-on-the-inside kind of dead. I’m going to go so far as to say that if you’re never angry, you’re mostly useless – to the people who really need you, and even to God. God needs you to be angry!
Of course that doesn’t mean we should live in a constant state of being “worked up” over every little thing. That’s dangerous to your own mental, physical, and spiritual health. And it doesn’t mean being the kind of volatile human being that everyone fears and would rather run away from. That’s dangerous to your own wellbeing and damages the kingdom of God.
But you need some fire in your soul if you ever want to accomplish what God has put you on this Earth to do.
Just days ago I was driving in heavy traffic, and felt my throat tighten and my blood pressure rise. I was facing some significant stress at that time that I had no control over, and piles of conflicting thoughts chased each other through my mind. I was tired emotionally and physically. And if one more person tried to cut me off in traffic . . . ?!!
Suddenly I stopped. I was upset over the unfairness of my current circumstances, and perhaps in some ways even at God for allowing this terrible traffic on top of everything else. Didn’t He know I was tired and stressed? But I knew this kind of anger was NOT the kind God needs us to have. There was something bigger at stake. I needed to change my focus, and concentrate on taking the next right step in the direction God had laid out for me to go. It was fine for me to be angry – but not at the driver in the car in front of me who was undoubtedly as stressed as I was.
The image of Jesus as passive, loving, and gentle is real, but it’s only one limited part of who He was and is. Jesus never took offense when someone criticized Him, violated His personal rights, or made things difficult for Him. But His very proactive stand against evil – especially religious legalism – was immovable, so much so that it got Him killed.
And that’s a clue to what God needs us to be angry about.
Where God Needs Your Anger
God loves you and me just the way we are. He loves the whole world, all 7 billion of us, in all our mindless misery and thorough brokenness. But He loves each one of us too much to let us remain in that condition. And without some righteous anger nobody – not you, not me, not the neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus – is going to be any different, or know or experience the life God has for them.
Perhaps it’s different where you are, but I see a lot of the church promoting Christianity as a feel-good country club when that’s nothing like the life into which Jesus called His followers to “Follow Me!” Consider these things against which God needs you, indeed requires you, to be fiercely and persistently angry:
- Your own sin and broken character. Are your thoughts, your behaviors, your relationships, your connection with God truly the way you know God wants them to be? Forgiveness is wonderful, but that’s only the beginning. God requires our transformation. As Hebrews says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4) No, we cannot become good on our own. But God won’t change us without our involvement. He needs you to care, to do what it takes, to strive not to do some legalistic list of “good deeds,” but to receive the new heart He has promised. (Hebrews 8:10)
- Injustice against those who are powerless. While Jesus Himself never campaigned against social injustice, He made clear that His followers were to care for “the fatherless and the widows.” (Psalm 68:5, James 1:27) In our world that would mean children without an intact home, people who are hungry or homeless, addicts and the mentally ill, victims of violence or human trafficking, prisoners, refugees, etc. Are all these people worthy? NO! But God requires us to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
- Institutionalized evil. Exploitation, greed, failures of integrity, campaigns against marriage and the family, attacks against Christianity – these and many more evils will continue to thrive and expand until and unless enough of God’s people stand up and say NO. We must remember that we are not attacking people per se, but are standing against the movements that seek to obliterate God’s hand in our society and our world.
- Legalistic or cross-less religion. Jesus reserved His harshest criticism for religious leaders who laid human rules and regulations on people without leading them to the heart change God requires. (Micah 6:8, Matthew 23:4, Matthew 23:23) Focusing on outward behavior can sometimes seem so much easier than to acknowledge the decaying nature of our heart and that of others, and point ourselves and them to Jesus and the transformation His cross makes possible.
So next time you (or I) feel your throat tighten and your blood pressure rise, check to see what it is you’re angry about. When you sense the fire in your soul that God has planted there, fan the flame. Harness that internal energy to move forward and take the next step in accomplishing what God has put you here to do.
Your Turn: Have you found the fire in your soul? Is there some other time God needs you to be angry that I haven’t mentioned? Leave a comment below.
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