Several years ago, I found myself angry. Not just getting angry at things easily. I found that there was just a low-level outrage simmering beneath the surface of my thoughts. In a moment of clarifying self-awareness I wondered, ‘Where did this come from? Why am I so angry? What am I even angry about?” At that moment I realized my anger was the fallout of too much talk radio. Like a frog unable to notice the warming water, I was being boiled alive by the constant anger, complaining, and outrage of broadcast personalities.
Don’t misunderstand. There is much to be angry about these days. Obvious sins are touted as righteousness in our virtue-signaling culture. And the defense of such pseudo-righteousness will be defended to the point of near-insanity. Any semblance of logic is tossed out if it undermines the narrative. This sort of thing is everywhere. Social media, political speeches, schoolboard decisions, sports teams, and more—there is no escaping it! And danger is that we can become so angry about all of it to the point that we ourselves start sinning.
In my opinion, we saw a sorrowfully clear expression of this in recent days. Though pundits and media platforms have used the Capitol riot for their own concerns, I think they’ve largely missed the mark on understanding (or admitting?) why it happened. People are angry.
But what about us as God’s people? If we aren’t careful, frustration over real problems can be twisted into prideful hearts, hardened against the very people we are supposed to love and reach with the gospel. Concern for God’s glory can be distorted into an idolatrous grip on pollical loyalties, cultural traditions, and self-interested mindsets. In essence, we allow our rage against societal problems to drive our lives rather than our love for Christ.
So, what can we do? How do we guard against a rising sense of anger and indignity before it gets out of control in our hearts? Let me suggest two simple things.
First, listen to better voices. Many years ago, I just had to turn off the radio. Maybe you do too. Or, maybe you need to stop reading specific blogs, watching new shows, listening to podcasts, or even sermons by Christian leaders. Let me be clear: I’m not saying you have to give up all engagement with the world and hunker down with only a Bible. I certainly don’t do that.
But it is important that we take note of what our heart does with what we feed it. Make sure that any stream of incessant complaining about the ills our country is overshadowed by a stronger deluge of godly voices reminding you of the greatness of God. Read good books. Listen to good sermons. Consider past voices which will help give you a better perspective on current circumstances.
Second, pray to your Heavenly Father. When we feel discontent over issues rising to levels of anger, we need to just stop and pray. When injustice is obvious and the truth is gagged, we need to stop and pray. When we find ourselves beginning to despond as if we had no hope (!), we need to stop and pray.
We pray first for the world. Father, please bring justice; please reveal the truth, please bring the gospel to the world and give us real hope!
Then we need to pray for ourselves. Father, keep me humble and remind of my own sin that needs to be dealt with. Remind me that while I should seek the good of our city and country, even more I should be seeking that eternal city which will outlast all others (Jer 29:7; Heb 13:14). Help me remember that I am supposed to be making disciples of Jesus and nothing else (Matt 28:19). And as a disciple of your Son, let my heart stay soft and my life marked by love above all else (John 13:35). In all circumstances, let us leave behind unnecessary anger and entrust ourselves to the wise care of our Sovereign Father. In uncertain days, let us embrace lives of joy and peace. In the face of sin and despair, let us remember the hope of gospel and preach Christ.
This was cross-posted on the Providence Bible Fellowship Blog.