Righteous Anger in the Age of Outrage

Our culture looks for ways to be offended and seeks revenge on those we disagree with. How can Christians navigate differing worldviews with grace, while still holding onto their beliefs? Who else is better equipped to show compassion than those who have been redeemed by Christ?

“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 The Message (MSG)

We are living in the age of outrage. Our culture looks for ways to be offended and seeks outlets for revenge on people that disagree with them.

It’s in the news, in Congress, all over the Internet, and is perhaps most noticeable on your social media feeds. Studies show that many of us spend our last waking moments scrolling through our phones in bed at night. The Bible tells us not to go to bed angry, but often times, we aren’t angry until we go to bed!

We have more outlets for airing our opinions, and complaints, than ever before and most Americans are taking full advantage of those resources for their own gain… or detriment.

As Christians, how do we represent Christ in our conversations when opinions differ and conversations get heated?

Are we navigating differing worldviews with grace and compassion? Or spite and revenge?

When we see people doing things we disagree with, do we say things like “I thought they were a Christian!” or “A Christian would/wouldn’t do something like that!” and write them off?

When we disagree with someone’s Facebook post, is it absolutely necessary to argue in the comments? To block the person? Will we ever reach people with the Gospel by blocking and ignoring them? Is that how discipleship works?

Feelings of anger are inevitable, and yes, Jesus got mad too. You are already thinking about the story of Him flipping over tables and crafting His own whip in the temple (John 2:13-17). Many people love to bring up this scripture as justification for their own outbursts, but let’s not confuse His righteous anger with our unrighteous rants.

There are innumerable sins all around us and oppression in our world is rampant. Justice must be served. But here’s the thing, it’s not always your place to serve it. It’s God’s (Romans 12:19).

There are times to speak up, but only after prayerful consideration and only in love and grace, never in anger. Let your anger, instead, be bridled and transformed into fuel for voluntarism, generosity, discipleship, and other actions that will bring about more positive change to the world than hatred ever could.

Ephesians 4:26 is a verse that is often referenced as permission for our anger, as long as we don’t take it too far, but how far is “too far”? Notice the scripture says “Don’t stay angry.” Like I said, being human, anger rears its ugly head quite often in our hearts and minds. However, just because we feel it, doesn’t mean we have to act on it. There are far more verses in the Bible speaking against anger, revenge, and retaliation.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Romans 12:17-21 The Message (MSG)

Are you consistently offended by people who have different views than you, and you just cannot for the life of you understand why they think and feel the way they do? Go out to lunch with them and ask. Spend time with them. Grab coffee together at a local cafe. You just might start to understand them a little more, and who knows, maybe you can influence them in a way that points them towards Christ.

As followers of Jesus, we have no reason to be offended. We already know that revenge is not our responsibility. We also know that our God has already overcome this world (John 16:33) and triumphs over all evil in the end, so nothing in this world can touch us.

If you are struggling with understanding how Christians could possibly live in this broken, sinful world without being angered by all we see around us, I highly recommend Brant Hansen’s book, “Unoffendable“. In his hilarious, yet thought-provoking style, Brant not only explains why we don’t need to be offended, but also explains why we have no right to be offended…by anything!

Perhaps Christians can be the ones to tame the rage monster and turn this trend around. Who else is better equipped to love the unlovable than those who have been redeemed by Christ?


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