Posted on: December 21, 2017
by: Gerrit Dawson
Are you mad? Lots of people are. As we reflect on the year that has passed, we recall 2017 as a year of continual outrage. Just a glance at a news site reveals constant use of trigger words for rage. Someone is always “furious,” “offended,” “attacked,” “slamming” or “accused.” We snap, bite and devour with voracious outrage.
But do you ever wonder who benefits from making sure you are in a constant state of agitation? Lots of people want to keep us angry. News sites want you addicted to the chemical rush of being furious at “those” people. Politicians want you hostile enough to vote against their opponents. Nonprofits count on our anger to inspire donations. In short, anger undergirds power. Outrage is a fuel, and we supply it by the tanker load to those who use our anger for their gain.
By contrast, Scripture tells us, “The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God” (James 1: 20). In other words, we’re getting duped into thinking that outrage is productive. Christ’s kingdom is not built on the screechy offendedness of a provoked people. When we seethe, we’re being deceived. We’re not building, we’re only burning. And we’re being used for others’ purposes.
The task of Christ’s people is very different than perpetual outrage. But that doesn’t mean we’re to be bland, passionless door mats. We’re called to blaze with the light of Christ. It’s a light that exposes darkness and leads people home. It’s a light that illumines injustice even as it reveals a better kingdom. Shining the unquenchable light of Christ will outrage the already outraged. So be it. There are those shivering in the dark who need the heat of the gospel. There are those falling into ruin from the users and the takers. They need the creative fire of Christ to rebuild their lives. Only Christ’s people have that light. We have to uncover it and let it shine.
At the beginning of WW II, the poet W.H. Auden noted,
“Defenseless under the night
The world in stupor lies.
Yet dotted everywhere
. . . points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages.
May I . . . show an affirming flame.”
As we look forward to a New Year, let’s be committed to moving from rage to blaze. From shredding words to the affirming flame of encouragement, truth and love. Jesus the Light of the world told his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” We draw fire from him. He sends us to blaze with the flame that recreates.
I look forward to a year of shining Christ’s light together, and to another 12 months where I can affirm how much I love to be your pastor.