Ep.1229: I’m a Christian and I’m Angry! What Now?
How anger works and how to transform it into a positive influence
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Theme Scripture: Colossians 3:8
We all get angry. In today’s social media world, we can easily find a platform to express that anger. Our anger develops when we hear or see something that we interpret as causing fear, frustration or offense. We react to our perception, and the seeds of anger are sown and grown in an instant. Once angry, we often find it justifiable to lash out with our own brand of challenge, retaliation or defiance. Our anger has now grown from a personal internal emotion into a larger and more threatening external action which is usually destructive and not constructive. As Christians, what are we supposed to do with this human instinct? Should we allow ourselves to get angry? Both God and Jesus got angry, so does that give us permission?
Anger doesn’t just happen on its own. On the contrary, it is generally seen as a secondary emotion. It engages because we have felt something else that provokes us to anger. According to the article in Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, “Deconstructing Anger in the Human Brain,” by Gadi Gilam and Talma Hendler, there are three primary emotions that can drive us towards anger:
- Real or imagined threat such as physical or psychological pain
- Frustration due to goal obstruction
- Perceived personal offense due to unfair treatment, violation of social norms, insults, rejections, criticism, and the like.
Why is it important to know this? As Christians, we are just as susceptible to feeling threatened, frustration, and perceived personal offenses as anyone else. However, we are specifically given a much higher standard than others to manage our anger. While the Scriptures tell us being angry is not necessarily wrong, that is only the beginning of the story. The Bible also reveals different levels of anger, and we are specifically instructed to never engage in some of them.
We can learn from God's example of anger
If we observe the many biblical accounts where God was angry, we see a pattern. God’s anger was in a broad sense always focused on humanity's rejection of His righteousness - and therefore of Him. Because we know God does have a plan for all, we can understand His expressions of anger as for the ultimate good of humanity. God’s anger was and is a tool of His righteousness.
We can learn from Jesus' example of anger
There were a few times in Jesus’ ministry when he got angry. Very angry. When we look at what he said and what he did, it can help us understand what appropriate anger should look like. Here’s a hint, it is not easy to achieve! Check out our May 16, 2022 podcast, “I’m a Christian and I’m Angry. What Now?” for more. We observe how anger works on a physiological level and how our physiology automatically engages our emotions. Anger is instinctive. We can choose whether its drive will be a force of constructive contribution or a force of destruction and disaster. The anger we see in our world now is primarily destructive. Join us and learn how to stand against that tide!