Anger has become the default position of our culture, and with devastating results, some hidden and some obvious. We live in an age of angry protest, where we feel like we have a moral obligation to be angry about something. And we are given enough surface victories through our protests to spur us on to more and more protests against more and more things. From #blacklivesmatter to #MeToo, we see what looks like change in our society, yet the changes are small (“too little, too late” some are saying) and superficial. I’m excited to see the number of black actors winning awards and women free to call out their oppressors. But this is not the change we truly need. What we truly need are changes of heart, not policy, and no protest is going to change a person’s heart (numerous psychological studies have proven this again and again); only the redemptive and transformative power of Jesus can do that.
This culture of anger has seeped, as it always seems to do, into our relationships, our personal lives, and our churches as well. While the stereotypical “old gossip” of the church has always been around, we are seeing more and more people not just dissatisfied with churches but angry at them, and I’m not talking about abuse scandals or embezzlement. Ordinary churches have become afraid to speak hard truths, minister to hard people groups, and upset their members for fear that the anger that is bubbling just under the surface might erupt. And while we can all stand sanctimoniously and proclaim that churches shouldn’t care about angering people (Jesus did, after all), that doesn’t change the fact that angry people leave and shrinking churches get abandoned and pastors are fired no matter how much they emulate Jesus.
For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.
Preach it, brother Agur.