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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Look Back In Anger

Have you been angry recently? Have you noticed other people being angry? Maybe this isn't a recent thing, but I seem to have come across a lot of anger recently.

I suppose anger comes about when we experience a violation of some kind. A boundary is crossed, an action is ignored, or someone attacks you, and we respond in anger. Anger itself comes in many forms: depression, sadness, violence, and aggressive behavior. My intention is not to make a dissertation on anger, but rather to note how angry we are these days.

Then a day like Mothers' Day (yesterday) comes around. All the pictures and words are not angry. There are smiles, genuine words of gratefulness and love. Anger has receded for a day. But doesn't it seem like it's just lying there, under the surface of forced friendliness, ready to pounce on the next person or situation that leads to anger?

One of my favorite lines from the Marvel Avenger movie (the first one) is when the Black Widow tells the Hulk--as the alien invaders are coming hell-bent for destruction--that "Now would be a good time to get angry." To which Bruce Banner replies, right before he transforms into the Hulk--"That's my secret. I'm always angry." And the Hulk uses his anger to help repel the aliens.
Image result for black widow and hulk

Bruce Banner, however, does not want to be angry. The Hulk is the result of the curse of Bruce Banner's anger. But he turns green and wears purple pants, who wouldn't be angry?

Jesus of Nazareth knew this anger, but he did not let it control him. Even when he lashes out at the moneychangers in the temple, or takes out a fig tree, these are signs of a man under stress, for whom anger is never a first option, but rather a last resort. How does he do it? How does Jesus control his anger?

He feeds people. He heals them. He talks to them about God. He dies in front of hundreds of angry people. He understands that God has the world under control, and his job is to live as a child, a Son of God. So he does. And in doing so he creates the very salvation our anger desires. The cross is the forgiveness we need for our anger. The cross is God's word of love to an angry world bent on destroying itself. Jesus tells each and every one of us it's OK to forgive. Forgiveness doesn't make you weak, it makes you the most human possible.

You see, it turns out all creatures have anger issues, but it seems that only humanity can come about with something like forgiveness. Only we have the ability to remember the wrong, and at the same time not let us look back in anger. Forgiveness is looking forward in love. Forgiveness is choosing to not let the anger rule your life. Forgiveness is letting God's love let you be the human God made you to be. The cross is your freedom into that reality.
Image result for cross and forgiveness

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.



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