This week at Trinity, we will explore Matthew 5:21-26. What does this text have to teach us about anger? Is our anger a sin? Is it a gift? Can it be both?
We live in a time that seems angrier than any I've ever seen--people who are older than I am say that this time is even more full of fury than some of the worst years of the Johnson or Nixon administration. Is this rage healthy?
I used to believe that politics had more potential to change the world than any other societal institution. My 19 year old self would have scoffed at the idea that religion could be transformative in the same--or better!--ways.
My current self feels a great weariness when it comes to any political discussion. Once, I would have been happy to discuss any political issue. Once I knew exactly what politicians needed to do to fix any problem. Now I freely admit that I wouldn't know what to do if you gave me full power--and I certainly don't know how to make huge groups of politicians work together for the common good.
We might argue that Jesus is instructing us about our individual relationships in this passage. I would agree. But the case against corrosive anger is true whether we're talking about individual relationships or our anger about larger groups.
I've spent time lately thinking about ministries and how we see our ministry. I've wondered how our nation might change if we saw more of us saw our ministry as being one of reconciliation.
One way to do that might be to seize opportunities to de-escalate situations. People can't be reconciled when everyone is vibrating with anger.
Anger can be transformative too, and not always in a bad way. But anger nursed deep within us is damaging. To hold that anger for many years is even worse. Far better to forgive, although it's much harder.