There’s a scene in the movie Avengers Assemble, where Captain America tells Dr. Banner that now would be a good time to get angry. Dr. Banner, of course, is better known as the incredible hulk because of the effects anger has on him; he turns to his friend and says, “That’s my secret, I’m always angry”. A quick read through facebook, twitter and even many traditional media outlets, would suggest he’s not alone.
We see it every day; if someone says or does something that annoys someone? It’s all over the internet in a matter of minutes. There’s a petition to have the person shot, a hashtag decrying them as evil, and all kinds of disproportionate accusations. It’s an escalating war of attrition which no one can ever win.
When writing to the church in Ephesus, Paul encouraged them that those who follow Jesus have put on a new self; one of the topics he covered was the way we process our anger.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
– Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)
I love how practical the advice is. We can be angry and not sin, it’s what we do with that anger that is so often the problem. As with many things in life, the emotion we feel isn’t the problem – the way that we process it is.
Paul taught us never to go to bed with unresolved anger and yet so often it seems that people do the opposite and feed their anger by sharing and spreading it online. The next day, when you should be waking up free of anger and having forgiven anyone who requires it, you wake up instead to a pile of well meaning sympathy and opinions that encourage your anger rather than relieve it. It’s a continuing cycle and we have to be the ones to break it.
The moment of anger is a moment of challenge to our faith. Will we let anger take over or will we see an opportunity to project the image of God into our world by showing love, forgiveness and grace? The way we process our anger will be one of the defining factors in who we become.
The moment of anger is a moment of challenge to our faith.
It is our job to reflect the image of His Son to our world. When we choose to show the world anger and hate, we’re presenting a false image of who Jesus is. Does our social media usage reflect the great hope we have inside?
Just weeks ago, nine church goers in Charleston, North Carolina, were shot and killed. Relatives, faced with the killer of their loved ones, spoke the immortal words, “we forgive you”. If people who’ve just had their loved ones killed can show forgiveness and grace to the killer, how much more should we show forgiveness in our anger at far smaller things?
Jesus was radically counter-cultural. In the prevailing culture of anger and outrage in our society, it’s time to stand out for the positivity and goodness we bring. We need to ensure that the things we put on-line show people the love and unending grace of Christ.