challenging anger

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Carl 2015-08-06What is it like for you when something makes you angry? I know that for me I usually get more entrenched in my own opinions, mindset, or worldview, and the more it festers, the less room I leave for anything else. Let’s face it: anger is easy and comfortable because it means our certainty goes unchallenged. And who doesn’t like to be Right?

It seems as though few places in the world  remain strangers to tragedy or hate. Four years ago, Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo, Norway. Recently, I read an article with the headline “Anders Breivik, Norwegian Mass Murderer, Admitted To Oslo University.” Citing that all the entry requirements had been met, the rector of the university said that although there is a moral dilemma at play, “We [Oslo University] keep our rules for our own sake, not for his.”

Yeah, this news made me a little angry. Although reading the comments is rarely a good idea, I did, maybe out of some subconscious desire to find validation for this anger. While validation was not difficult to find I kept reading…and reading. Near the bottom of the comment section I read something that was like a spark, causing my anger to stutter slightly. The first line of the comment read, “Good, he needs something other than nonsense to occupy his mind.”

To be sure, I am not saying that I have completely shifted on the thought of an unrepentant mass-murderer getting to go to college  – because I haven’t, and that’s okay.

weekly 2015-08-06It’s a weird feeling, isn’t it, when we are pushed even momentarily, from our place of certainty? It seems especially easy for our strong opinions and answers on today’s issues, whether political, theological, or moral, to manifest as anger when they are challenged, as was the case for me when I read through this article. The accompanying comment didn’t simply become my new strongly felt opinion on the matter. It was more an opportunity for me to ask myself, “Am I going to let only my anger and hate for this person occupy me and be my guide for what I think should happen to him?”

And so I began to uncover how, with an opinion grounded in anger, I was completely unaware of the possibility for any love (or anything other than hate for that matter) to enter this situation. If I can’t let in anything other than hate and darkness when I’m angry, where’s the hope for resurrection? It’s not as if I can never let myself get upset or feel angry, but when I am so caught up in a feeling that is so comfortable and yet so destructive, I make myself blind to manifestations of love that can enter in and bring new life to all the places of darkness. As much as it feels good and just, sending Anders Breivik all the hate in the world probably won’t change him; the only thing that has a chance is love. Reacting to the issues of the world from a place of anger, resentment, distrust, or fear can never bring about the kind of abundant life and resurrection Jesus came to make manifest in our midst – only love can do this.

Hope to see you Sunday,