It’s hard to remember a time when people were more angry. A civilized person ought to be, first of all, civil. Yet, today there is no discourse, no respect for another’s opinion, no reasoning together for the common good. I am concerned, especially for the church.
One may argue, “Our society is decaying. We should be mad.” Yes, but we can be angry yet still not sin (see Eph 4:26). Of course, I feel anger that the underpinnings of our culture are being dismantled by unprincipled men. Our souls should be vexed at the darkening cloud of demonic infestation in our culture, especially when children are caused to stumble or the weak are exploited. If we don’t take a stand, the advance of evil ultimately means more people will die without Christ. So, if we are angry, it does not necessarily mean we have sinned. It can simply mean we care.
I am not surprised by the increased anger. My concern is that, unless this anger regenerates into something more redemptive, more Christlike, we will not see our world renewed. Indeed, anger that does not awaken in us redemptive action ultimately degrades into bitterness and unbelief.
A Two-Pronged Attack
While hell advances into our world on many levels, I want to discuss two primary areas. The first manifestation is brazen, widespread and alarming. For example, a corrupt law gets passed or gang violence breaks out; or it might be that a public figure is scandalized. It’s on the news and people are talking about it. The shock waves caused by this demonic intrusion smash against our hearts: we’re disappointed, offended, stunned and, often, outraged. In this state of mind, hell launches the second area of attack. There is no newscast featuring this next stage of warfare. On this front, the devil does not come openly flaunting himself, but quietly. In seething whispers he stirs the pot of our discontent until it boils. Ultimately, where once the heart of the Christian was full of faith and love, now bitterness, hatred and malice churn in the souls of God’s people.
So while we must fight the culture wars of our times, we must preserve our capacity to love if we will actually win our war. We must remember we are not fighting against “flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12 KJV).
Sadly, I have heard many people say recently that they’ve lost their vision for America. What they actually lost was not their vision, but their love. For love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).
The Goal Of God
I will tell you how I look at this. I believe that if the Almighty’s highest plan was to end evil on Earth, He could do so in a flash. Why does He wait? He desires to bring believers to Christlike maturity. In a moment evil would be gone, as it was with Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must never forget: Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.
What God waits for is us. Our Christlike perfection is the harvest upon which the Father waits. He desires to bring many sons to glory, and this world, with all its evil, is the perfect setting to bring us to Christlike maturity. Here, we have real enemies that God can use to perfect our love; in this environment, we have actual foes whose persecution helps to perfect our prayer.
Yes, we should be angry about what’s wrong, but we must be Christlike in making things right. We cannot just be political; we must be spiritual, like people from another realm.
Rightly there are times when we must defend the helpless among us, but concerning ourselves, let us consider again what Jesus commanded:
“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:39-45).
You see, God desires mature sons and daughters who, while fighting for their world, open the door of love into His world. To see our nation transformed, we ourselves must be transformed. Otherwise, we will risk becoming Christian hypocrites: angry that the world is not Christian but untroubled that we are not Christlike.