“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret–it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.”
I told a friend a few months ago that more and more I find myself experiencing such polar emotions. My soul is increasingly aware of and overcome by grief, even anger, at the degree of pain and injustice I see in the earth.
At the very same time, I am more confident than ever in the perfect wisdom, goodness, and power of my Creator, sure of His unending faithfulness, infallible justice, and eternal plan. I witness it daily.
I know many of you have wrestled with this same paradox. We can’t deny the death, greed, and untruths that surround us. Political, social, and spiritual arenas are exploding with immorality and conflict, yet we know the God we serve is without fault or weakness.
So how do we bring the parts and pieces together for clear direction? Are we supposed to be doing something?
Jesus’ life sheds light on our path.
John 2 records that Passover was approaching so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There He found the Temple enclosure being used as a marketplace.
This wasn’t the first time Jesus had been to the Temple. This wasn’t the first time He had witnessed the livestock and money changers. But He entered the courtyard with a specific purpose, unique to that day.
Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” John 2:15-16
Yes, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus was angry. He did not gently walk through the courtyard and ask everyone to please leave. He aggressively turned over tables and swung a whip to chase out the cattle and sheep.
But the next verse is key:
Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
Jesus saw into the hearts of those who sold doves and sheep for sacrifices. He had witnessed their manipulation and greed many times and He felt righteous anger.
But His actions were not simply a reaction to anger. His actions were inspired by the heart and Word of His Father.
As we open ourselves to the words of the Bible and the presence of God we will be affected by them. The deeper we press into God, the more aware we will become of the darkness that covers the earth.
We can respond in one of three ways.
- We can randomly lash out at the world in anger.
- We can ignore it and say everything will just work out.
- Or we can let the Word and Spirit of God inspire us to specific action.
In this particular story, Jesus was moved by the Father to clean out the Temple courtyard. Jesus’ passion for His Father’s honor and His obedience to His Father’s voice manifested in an aggressive demonstration of authority.
But this same passion and obedience also led Jesus to walk silently to the cross.
How should we react to the upheaval around us? How should we respond to the violence and abuse? The pride, deception, and manipulation?
We can’t just turn our heads. Jesus didn’t.
But neither can we lash out in a purely emotional rage.
We must saturate ourselves with the Word and presence of our Father.
We must hear His heart and instructions for each moment.
And we must act – not out of anger, but from divine inspiration.
One moment He may tell you to boldly step forward and fight for justice. The next, to quietly love the one beside you. In either case Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”