You Won’t Like Me When I Am Angry

Don’t Make Me Angry

In Ephesians 4:26, 27 it says “‘Be angry, and do not sin’:do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”  This is a verse that I have had to remind myself of more frequently in the past few years than I ever have before.  In general I am a person that let’s things go pretty easily.  To the best of my ability I strive to take part in the wisdom of those who came before me who realized that violence yields no lasting rewards and that surrendering to irrational emotions leaves one vulnerable to taking all sorts of regrettable actions.  But every once in a while I’ll get this sense that if one more straw comes down I am going to snap.  But by the grace of God, I have had the opportunity to consider how Jesus must have felt when he did nothing but good for people with the most loving intentions and yet got escorted to the grave.  Unlike many people I know, I don’t look at Jesus as a cosmic superhero God that doesn’t feel anything.  I dare to think that he felt the same feelings that I feel and probably had the same weaknesses.  Maybe he had even more. (Oh no, the blasphemy!)  Keep in mind that Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 12 that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.  So if Jesus expressed God’s strength perfectly…. You do the math. (If this idea bothers you, let me know and I’ll send you a 15 page paper on the subject.)So before those of you who see Jesus as the above mentioned superhero go too crazy, check out Hebrews 4:15 which says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  I didn’t write that.  So… Anyway, when I get angry, I think about that verse and I pray like crazy that his example will serve me in finding that way out of temptation mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Jesus’ Last Straw

Very often this works for me, but sometimes when I am tired or feeling a little self righteous, I trip up.  If I feel bad about it later, I have to thank God for the humbling experience, forgive myself,  and keep moving forward to greater things.  In contrast, there are also those times when I pull a “Jesus and the Moneychangers” as described in John 2:13-16 and let it all out and trust God that the steam I let off was what was needed to purify the situation.  (Didn’t you know that steam is used to sanitize materials?)  So in this way, I figure the message of angering but not sinning has a different view on sin than most of us might have.  I think if any one of us reacted like Jesus did today, not only would we be arrested and sent to a psych ward one day, many of us would not even let the perpetrator live it down. Every time the person would try to show that they aren’t defined by that incident, we would replay the video of them going crazy.  If they caught Jesus flipping out on video it would get 100,000,000,000 hits on YouTube and someone would autotune it so that it would sound like T-Pain in Aramaic when he said, “You turned my father’s house into a den of thieves”.

Knowing this I try to keep my anger in check and I try my best not to be too hard on myself when I am unsuccessful, because I don’t really put it on others to let it go–especially if I can’t.  I know that most of us have this tendency of finding comfort in other people’s difficulties.  I imagine we must be thinking, “Whoo, I’m glad it isn’t me.”  That’s why for the most part I don’t take anything people say personally whether it is positive or negative.  I figure if they can say one, they can say the other.  That’s probably why Jesus didn’t want anyone calling him good (see Mark 10:18).  He knew they were going to switch up on him.

This is what I would do.

Speaking of people switching up on Jesus.  In my opinion the greatest miracle that Jesus was ever said to perform was resisting the temptation to get off of the cross with a legion of angels and taking out every person that ever turned on him. I don’t focus on walking on water, appearing and disappearing at will, healing people, or even raising the dead.  While those miracles are awesome, that’s not how I relate to him.  Besides, I don’t think Jesus expects me to be able to do those things, yet he said greater things than he did we could do if we believed (John 14:12).  To me, staying on that cross is the greatest thing he did.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson taught, we gain the strength of the temptation we resist.  When I think of him on the cross saying, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”, I feel like I have to keep trying.  I know most of us who who say we love him would like to believe that it was easy for Jesus to get on that cross.  If we’ve ever even read the Bible, we conveniently forget most of the scriptures I’ve already mentioned so that we can use our “only human” excuse. (I’m including myself in this.)  We don’t think about him begging God three times to get out of it, but going anyway.  And how many of us think about him telling us to take up our own crosses and bearing them?  What’s your cross?  Right now mine is anger.As I am approaching 36 years old, it has been getting to me that I have spent a lot of time trying to do the “right thing” and not get caught up in what I sometimes call “the illusion”.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched people getting sucked in by false promises of the apparent material world, romantic fantasies, popular media, and people trying to use them.  Most of those same people will ask why they suffer so much and yet get pissed if you tell them the truth.  For years I just let it go, but it has gotten harder as I’ve approached middle age and have questioned whether it was worth it being an outsider for so long.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my cross.  It is what it is, but, being human, I get tired sometimes.  That’s why I get so much out of the idea of Jesus being able to forgive those people.  I figure if he got angry, distressed, sorrowful, and was tempted just like me and yet was still able to do what Rocky Balboa said and “take the hits and keep moving forward”, then I can keep trying too.  Because believe me if I didn’t have his example, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Note: Just in case someone from Marvel Comics reads this and tries to get Stan Lee to sue me, the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line comes from The Incredible Hulk who is a Marvel character.  Hahaha.  I’m covered!

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