Rage and Grace
SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
Outrage is all the rage these days, but rage is still considered outrageous. Say what!?
Well, it seems that every day in the U.S. we see someone from whatever political persuasion outraged over the narrow-mindedness of others. An example: gays are outraged that some people are not open to same-sex marriage, and others are outraged that gays and others want to redefine marriage. People are outraged all around us it seems on every conceivable subject, venting their invective on those who disagree with them with a rather shocking tone of condescension and moral superiority.
Expressing your personal opinion was a right won in this country’s first war with about 8,000 combat deaths with another 17,000 civilian deaths thrown in, plus 25,000 more wounded. It used to be called “freedom of speech” that was a human privilege by right of creation fought for in the Revolutionary War.
Outrage ought to be expected in our country, though, when you think about it: when God’s way is discounted and sidelined in a culture, then people become the moral law unto themselves and their verbal-judicial condemnation will follow. I’m getting used to people’s outrage and I plan on calmly continuing to speak my opinion to them, even in the face of their outrage.
So outrage is all the rage, but rage in many forms is still not welcome.
Rage: strong feelings of anger that are difficult to control; a sudden expression of violent anger.
Guys, can we talk about it? Rage is like gasoline thrown on a small fire. In a split second a fireball erupts and in a scary way alters everything nearby. Then, amazingly, rage dies down but as mentioned, not until some significant damage is done. It frightens our children, intimidates our spouses, terrifies our neighbors, scorches coworkers, and galvanizes our bosses to begin finding a way to eliminate our position. In addition it can eviscerate our identity as Christ followers.
I know rage.
It’s Saturday morning and everyone is walking their dogs outside my home office window when one unknown neighbor allows his dog to use our front lawn as its potty spot. Looking around furtively (recognizing he has guilt over this misuse of private property), said neighbor readily gives into his animal’s desire to do its (animals are its with no souls) business wherever it wants. Shouldn’t owners use their own property for this? Shouldn’t people tell dogs where to do their damage rather than let them determine the spot? Call me crazy. Well, the hateful owner quickly picks up the lumps and skedaddles. The accelerated exiting pace of the criminal neighbor is proof positive he knows he has committed an outrageous act, leaving residual dog waste on my property. What if I walk out there after the animal finishes and don’t know what has transpired on that spot? Every time such doggie desecration happens—admittedly infrequent—I experience immediate rage and have to stifle my urge to run ranting and raving out the front door with righteous (or not) indignation.
Such rage would be politically incorrect, and a toxic by-product of my sin, not of the grace I’ve received in Jesus. Not to mention that I’m a minister of the Gospel and everyone in my neighborhood knows it. I find that my rage stems in this situation from two of my internal presuppositions: 1) What’s mine is mine and no one has the right to deface it, and 2) What you do to my stuff or my people you do to me. In a way consistent with insecure people, I feel disrespected by neighbors by the very act of doggie demolition on my lawn. Selfishness and insecurity. I’m sure there are more sin issues here, but this is my current level of awareness of them.
What fuels your rage like gas on flame? Know yourself.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Indeed it does, and He does. Rage is a tipoff of something deeper and we men following Jesus can learn from it. When rage flares up take advantage of the conflagration to let it get your attention, as I have. What really was going on back there? Why did I get so angry? What effect did my explosion have? Is this the way I want to live? How are my relationships impacted by my fireballs of wrath? When you’ve done a little thinking about your rage event, then go to the Father and tell Him you want to do life differently. Confess and repent while focusing on the cross, remembering that it was sins like our crazy rage that put our Savior there. And let the grace soak in, deep.
The Father is Holy, but He has no lingering rage for you because it was all spent on Jesus. You’re His son because of Jesus, and He has love and grace to bestow, if you’ll take it.
It’s always humbling to admit that our rage was misplaced (even ridiculous to others), and even harder but greatly healing to go to those we’ve offended and frightened, and ask forgiveness. It takes a real man to do that, a man made more real and manly by the grace of God in Jesus. But this is who we are, we men following Christ: real-life sinners, rageaholics at times, who are getting graced and getting free.
Rage and grace are related. The latter begins to destroy and eliminate the former.
You take it to heart.