Written by Sarah Sumner, Ph.D., MBA on May 30, 2017
President of Right On Mission
Author of Angry Like Jesus (Fortress Press, 2015)

America is divided, and according to the media, Donald Trump is surfing the waves of people’s ire.  Many voters feel disgusted not only by the breakdown of our national security, but also of our national core values.  America used to value freedom in the form of religious freedom and freedom of speech.  Likewise, we used to value reason and civility.  That is, we used to value our nation’s social contract.  In the past we were a self-governing society that submitted to the authority of the founding documents of our country.  But now that we’ve been exploited and unlawfully ignored by professional politicians who are caught up in the vortex of self-preservation and runaway power, the population is in a giant power struggle.

More tragic is the fact that the very same disease has been contracted by some Christian organizations.  Lawlessness is contagious.  From what I know anecdotally, millennial “nones” and “dones” have had it with the church partly on account of the leadership abuses they have seen.  When pastors and presidents of Christian churches and nonprofits enthrone themselves to sit above the law, the very notion of the “rule of law” loses its force.  We cannot sustain our democracy unless we play by the rules.  The free market depends as well upon good faith and the rule of law.  Alas, America’s moral decay has progressed to the point that lawmakers themselves have been unethically upended by injudicious judicial rulings of unaccountable judges in our courts.  This may sound like a leap, but in very similar manner, many Christian organizations are being slowly undercut by unaccountable governing boards that allow excessive debt and secularizing forces to corrode them.  No wonder we are entering into chaos.  Lawlessness breeds chaos.  Since sin itself is “lawlessness” (I John 3:4), sin is the root problem in our land. 

So here we are at Church United, standing with each other before God, asking Him to use us as purveyors of His grace because nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse a human heart with His forgiveness (I John 1:9) and fill us with the power to honor His ways (Galatians 6:2).

In America we are reaping what we’ve sown.  Trump’s followers want a champion to take on the “Goliath” of the Establishment.  As far as I can tell, Trump’s vitriol does not scare them; it relieves them.  Trump’s followers that I’ve spoken with are relying on Trump’s anger “to set America back on track.”  By contrast, Trump’s dissenters are so extremely angry that they plotting to impeach him and storming the streets with placards that deny the historical fact that he was elected.  

All this is to say, I marvel that so many look so favorably on Trump’s anger, yet so few professing Christ followers are open to acknowledging the Church’s desperate need for Jesus’ anger.  Trump’s anger has nothing to do with trusting God.  By contrast, Jesus’ anger has everything to do with healing our deep-seated faithlessness.

Jesus’ anger is so different from the anger of Trump’s dissenters and from the anger of Trump himself.  The question that this difference raises in my mind is simply this:  Do we, as believers–and as pastors– know the fifteen or more stories recorded in the Gospel accounts that testify of the strength of Jesus’ anger?  Is it clear in our minds that our Lord’s anger holds the power to counteract the anger in our land?  It takes fire to combat fire and a diamond to cut a diamond, and Jesus’ shining anger to displace our darkened anger.  

Jesus’ anger is not what people think.  It is principled and orderly and anchored in His perfect faith in God (Hebrews 12:2).  Yes, Jesus Himself is God, but His anger was human just as His faith was human.  Jesus, the Perfect Human, has anger that imbues us with moral courage.

With the help of Jesus’ anger, we can choose God’s higher ways, even in the face of opposition.  

“Do not let the sun go down,” even on your godly anger.  “Do not give the devil an opportunity.”  But do “be angry, yet without sinning” (Ephesians 4:26-27) and take hold of the truth that while sinful anger extinguishes love, godly anger ignites it.   

Lord, please quicken our hearts.  Make us curious to find out what Jesus’ anger is about. Open our spiritual eyes so that we become willing to worship Jesus in His anger that kept Him from caving into worldliness.  Show us how to fight the good fight.  Make us like our Lord Who was humble and gentle.  In other words, teach us to be angry like Jesus.  I pray this in His Name, Amen.

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