Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bethany Bullet - January 25, 2011

Please watch this clip:

(If you are unable to open, copy/paste this to your browser: http://vimeo.com/19149386)

I’ve been behind the wheel in Ollie’s place before; how ‘bout you? Unfortunately, there is something about driving on California roads and getting angry that seems to be a natural fit. Let’s just say, I bet many of us are glad it was Ollie and Harriet, not us, who were filmed behind the wheel.

Of course, it isn’t only behind the wheel that we find ourselves growing ‘fist shaking’ furious is it? What about…

  • When the boss, the company, or a client all of a sudden present a huge curve you never expected;
  • When your spouse or the one you’re hoping was going to inherit that title, out of the blue presents an unexpected dead-end to your relationship;
  • Ever had your health or your hopes hit a huge pothole leaving you flat and struggling to make it down life’s highway?
  • How about the Designer of life’s journey? Have you ever felt as if God has removed any and all directional signs and left you driving solo, free-wheeling it, so to speak? You’re talking but it seems no one is listening; you’re listening but it appears He ain’t talking. You are left to stew because you believe God has left you.

So, who hasn’t shaken a fist from behind the wheel? Then, as those who desire to live the Golden Rule what ought we to do with our anger?

Read the story of Joseph, if you are following the One-Year Bible that is exactly where you are right now. It is found in Genesis 37-50.

Here are some textual highlights:

  • Jacob or Israel as he is also known has 12 boys; but one is the apple of his eye, a chip off the old block, daddy’s boy, and father’s favorite.
  • That one is named Joseph.
  • He shares his vision with his brothers about his place of primacy and leadership among them.
  • They toss him in a hole and finally sell him into slavery, then report to their father that this favored son of his has been killed.
  • Joseph serves as a slave, is wrongly condemned, and imprisoned. He then rises to the place of national prominence and leadership in Egypt, unbeknownst to his brothers. Joseph is the official his brothers stand before seeking assistance for the family facing starvation back home. Then, finally revealed to them as their long “lost” brother, Joseph and his family are restored.

Here are some textual reflections:

  • We’ve all had brothers, be they our brothers by blood or spirit, who are snide, snotty, condescending, and self-absorbed know-it-alls.
  • We’ve all known brothers, be they physically or theologically related to us, who are vindictive, jealous, and rash.
  • We’ve all had brothers with whom we, like they, have the “right” to be angry.

Here are some textual applications:

  • There is such a thing as righteous anger.
  • Righteous anger does the right thing; unlike taking a father from a son or son from his father.
  • Anger, even righteous, is never an excuse to do the wrong thing; like betraying and selling off said brother.
  • Cruelty, brutality, and injury these cannot be justified as results of our anger.
  • Sin is sin regardless of the soil from which it springs.
  • There are both civic and societal consequences to sin. We can both allow them to take place and even pursue them with clear conscience within the framework of the Golden Rule. Joseph allowed his brothers to worry, for a time. He allowed them to conjure up all sorts of potential results and endings to their unexpected encounter. In order to lead them to repentance, not in order to get even!
  • Forgiveness does not equal ignorance or lack of remembrance; nor does accepting all people mean approving all behavior. Joseph told them that what they did was evil, and intended to be such, but God worked it for good.

So having gone through that story we should get back to the question: How do we deal with anger as those who seek to live by the Golden Rule?

Maybe another question can provide us with an answer. How does the One who gave the Golden Rule deal with His anger? Make no mistake about it, God has been angry. His anger is always righteous, for He is always righteous. God’s wrath is never at a sinner – rather it is always at sin. God never seeks to get even nor does He ever throw a tantrum. You know what God does with His anger? He drops it on Jesus. God pours out the fullness of that anger, the fullness of His wrath toward sin, the world’s, our “brothers” and our own on Jesus, so that He might be reconciled to us and we reconciled unto Him.

There are many ideas about how to deal with anger from counting to 10, to taking a deep breath with a slow exhale, to writing a letter, to talking to a therapist or counselor; each valid and helpful to many to be sure. Here is one more suggestion for your anger, what if you do with your anger what God does with His? Leave it at the cross. God placed His on Jesus’ soul! Why not leave yours at Jesus’ feet? Rather than shaking a fist full of blame, accusation, or spite take your anger to Christ, who is your brother, with an open palm and let him clench his hand around your anger and begin to take it from you. God was satisfied fully in one fell swoop, we call it Good Friday. It might take you once a day, every day, three times on Friday if you’re driving LA/OC freeways…yet, when angry why not take a journey to a hill far-far away, and do with your anger what God did with His…leave it at the cross?

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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