Anger Drains Your Love Power. Let it Go.
We only have to look on Facebook to clearly see that many of us currently living on the planet have become extremely rude in one area: offering respect to others who don’t agree with us. Have you been “unfriended” by someone yet, for not accepting a truth that this “friend” angrily demands is so obvious?
Isn’t it ironic that a country founded on personal freedoms is today comprised of citizens willing to slug it out simply because they can’t control the thinking of others? Thank you, cultural tolerance!
Cultural tolerance has taught us to believe that we’re each entitled to the validity of our personal “truth.” That I should be able to freely air my truth, without critique or judgment, from you. The reality, of course, is that if our views are opposed, one of us must be wrong. If I don’t champion gay rights, for example, and you do, then you might label me a “homophobe,” which is untrue. If you don’t believe in God, I might choose to think you’re rather dumb. Also untrue! People, we have to stop with the judgment and labels!
Cultural tolerance fails to produce authentic tolerance. Because tolerance isn’t the goal of those who demand we adhere to it. It’s control. Control of our minds and actions. Some of the tools used to achieve this manipulation of us? Anger. And fear. And scorn.
Do you feel it in the air like I do? The looming, heaving, broiling clouds of poker-white fury and condemnation? We’re all being primed to go off at the slightest provocation — and to feel justified when we do.
Cultural tolerance has trained us to entrench in our thinking and refuse to budge. Some of us are quick to show our emotional immaturity, lashing out and publicly denigrating those who disagree with us. Cultural tolerance feeds on our need to be right, not on our brotherly good will. If I’m mad at you, and you’re mad at me, it becomes impossible for us to create a loving, kind, respectful human family.
Cultural tolerance, in its present form, creates an “in” crowd and an “out” crowd. One group of people increasingly finding themselves being pushed out are Christians.
Do Christians Deserve to be Called “Intolerant”?
We Christians are being labeled “intolerant” because we adhere to God’s universal truth. Absolute truth doesn’t sit well with people who want there to be no definite right or wrong. To suggest that we know the right way to live — God’s way — makes some people really mad. I know the issue is more complicated than that, but the heart of this ongoing debate is whether an all-powerful creator exists, and if He does, why does He get to call the shots?
Granted, the media does a great job of making Christians look like idiots. But we Christians add fuel to the fire by our own actions. We often, for example, do a really crappy job of demonstrating God’s love. Especially to someone who calls us a “homophobe” or “bigot” or “intolerant.”
Some Christians get so focused on proving the rightness of their stance, that they are unloving. Some of us, in fact, are downright rude and unkind to people we deem to be “sinners.” Some Christians are 100 percent positive that it’s their mission in life (their very reason for being born?) to remind everyone around them just how hot hell is, and the high chance of “sinners” personally feeling the burn if they don’t get their act together and call on Jesus. Friends, let’s take a chill pill, shall we? We all need God’s forgiveness on a daily basis.
I would just remind us to look at the method of evangelism that Jesus himself modeled.
In the words of King David, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving kindness (Psalm 103).” Would Jesus have been so effective at drawing the multitudes, if he’d first beat them over the head with their sin? Jesus did speak to people about their sin, but he didn’t make them wallow in the guilt and shame of it before he forgave them.
Does scripture say that Jesus told Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector, to come down from the sycamore tree so Jesus could go to his house to list out the numerous ways Zacchaeus had been unkind and unethical and selfish? Hardly. Jesus told Zacchaeus to come on down so he could spend quality time with him. So he could show him that God values every person. Wrap your head around this, friends: Jesus was able to befriend tax collectors, without condoning their sinful actions. And a tax collector turned believer became a powerful messenger for Jesus.
We are to extend the same grace, love, and acceptance of others that God shows us. When others feel our genuine care for them, don’t you think they might be a lot more open to letting us then share a bit about our beloved Jesus? And possibly let go of some of the anger they’re really weary of carting around?
Let us be sure that our actions don’t help cultural tolerance to persuade society that God’s ways are worthy of scorn.
How Do You Choose to View God?
I know two sisters who are fraternal twins. As teens, they were raised in a denomination that chooses to keep its focus on sin. The sisters are now in their fifties. One of the sisters is still so enslaved by legalism that she can’t comprehend the concept of grace. Her heart is hard, and she’s hard on people. There’s not a chance in hell (forgive my pun), that she would hang out with “sinners.” The other sister, who freely admits that she used to beat herself up mentally daily for being imperfect, now can’t get enough of grace. Some days she still struggles to trust that God sees her as redeemed, but when reminded to lay that distrust at the feet of Jesus, her joy is again renewed. Which sister do you think might be more effective for Jesus?
Friends, when we are confident in God’s love, we can view ourselves rightly: as supported, accepted works in progress. God is our biggest cheerleader, our biggest fan. Which means that we, likewise, if we follow His model, can view those who don’t yet know Him as works in progress, too. God loves non-believers just as much as He loves those of us who know him.
I think that’s one of the things I like best about God. He doesn’t play favorites. He’s ever-ready to extend grace to anyone (even the thief on the cross), to add a new member to the God Squad. Amazing grace, indeed!
Be Mighty in Respect and Love, Not Anger.
So, how do we show acceptance while not also approving of someone’s behavior? We start by respecting that all people are important to God. With that foundation, we can offer them the freedom to have their views, without taking it personally if they don’t offer us the same. (It might sting, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not critical, right?) And we look for opportunities to be of service, to be God’s hands and feet, because it’s through our actions that we most clearly demonstrate His love. Lastly, we must make sure we don’t fall into the trap of returning anger for anger.
Remember back in grade school when we wanted to shut someone up? When we’d taunt, “I know you are. But what am I?” Remember how utterly frustrating it was to have someone repeat this phrase to you? If you were like me, you balled your fists, just aching for the opportunity to punch these Neanderthals in the kisser and watch with pleasure as they hit the floor.
But we didn’t follow through on this fantasy, because we knew we’d get in trouble with both the principal and our parents. And we knew we’d disappoint God. When you look back at those days, do you laugh at how immature you were, and ask yourself why it was that you allowed yourself to be so easily goaded?
It’s a good question to ask ourselves today. Maybe we could choose to act this way, instead: Don’t put up your dukes to fight. Put up your dukes to fight off hate and anger. Let us not be intolerant of those who can’t offer true tolerance. Let’s focus on being loving like Jesus, to show the world His tolerance for our humanity. Jesus can work with and through people who open themselves up to Him.
Thought to Ponder
A good scripture to memorize is James 1:5: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry; for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” How might using this verse as one of your personal mantras help you to show acceptance, love, and respect, even when you don’t agree with another person’s viewpoint?
This blog post has been adapted from the book The Beauty of Intolerance, by Josh and Sean McDowell.