Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Anger

“And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons . And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” “ – Mark 11:15-17

“And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.” – Nehemiah 13:8

One of the more complicated issues for the revolutionary Christian to address is that of anger. When we think of anger the first image that comes to mind is of a person screaming and cussing and breaking things. This certainly is not something that would be considered Biblical. So, in understanding and trying to cope with this it is easy to construct rules which say not to get mad. In fact, in Christ’s teachings he even says that “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Therefore, it can be settled that Christianity and anger are incompatible and so Christians should never be angry.

There is just one problem with this, that being, Christ himself got angry, angry even to the point that threw some tables around. I have found it to be a good marker for bad teachings, that we want to be careful not to create a theology which disqualifies Jesus. Thus, if it is not sinful for Christians to be angry, what is the right interpretation of how to behave?

Plainly put, I believe the solution can be found in Ephesians 4:26-27:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

It is alright to be angry. Anger is just one of the myriad emotions which God has created and giving to the human palatte for application. So, we clearly see that anger is not a sin in and of itself, but that we should be careful not to allow anger to lead us into some other sin.

We see an illustration of this in Nehemiah 13. In this chapter Nehemiah becomes aware that one of the priests has allowed an outsider to marry into his family and moreover has prepared for this man an apartment inside the store room of the temple. As it says above, Nehemiah was very angry and threw out all of the man’s possessions. Why? Because this was the house of God and the part which was to be used for storing the offerings to God were instead being used to house a man who by God’s decree was forbidden to join in the assembly of the Israelites. Thus, Nehemiah’s anger was towards the disobedience and irreverence being prosecuted against God. Was Nehemiah angry because some personal harm had been done to his person? No. Did he go overboard and kill the man out of rage? No. He simply got angry and cleansed the temple so that the proper respect may be paid to God, and then he let it go.

We also see an illustration of this in Genesis with the story of the rape of Dinah (Chapter 34). In verse 7 it says that “the sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing must not be done.” However, in response to this anger two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, devised and executed a plan to slay all of the peoples associated with the man who committed this act (vv.25-26). Later, when Jacob goes to bless his sons, he chastises not all of the sons who were angry but just the two who carried their anger into sin (Genesis 49:8). Similarly, we have an account in 1 Samuel where the spirit of the Lord descends upon Saul and it says of Saul that “his anger was greatly kindled” (1 Samuel 11:6). As a result of this Saul splits two oxen in half and threatens to do the same to any persons oxen who does not come to stand up against a great injustice, and because Saul acted in the spirit of the Lord all went well with him.

Therefore, as a revolutionary Christian, we must get angry when God is disrespected or maligned, or whenever a great act of injustice or tragedy is committed against our brethren, however we must be careful not to sin in doing so. Our purpose must be to see God glorified and obeyed in the proper manner and not to fulfill a personal vendetta (“‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord,” Romans 12:19). It is okay to get angry, to teach otherwise is sheer legalism, but as with many other things, our anger must be carried out with the Lord’s prayer in mind: that God’s will be done.

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