I first wrote this blog post in April 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I had a conversation with a friend today that prompted me to share this again.
As I write this, images, stories and news bulletins continue to emerge in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Last night I was looking through some pictures online and I was literally speechless. My stomach hurt. I couldn’t stand to see any more. I was filled with an incredible sense of anger at the injustice in all of this. I felt helpless to do anything about it, which only amplified the anger I felt. There’s really no other word to describe the feeling.
It only got worse when I read about 8-year-old Martin Richard, who lost his life in the attack. An innocent child, enjoying the race and cheering on the runners with his family. Only the most evil of people could take the life of a child in this way. I am so angry as I write this that I can barely type. I can’t wrap my mind around what motivates this kind of horrible action.
Someone asked me this morning if it’s wrong for Christians to be angry. He had been told growing up that anyone who is truly a follower of Jesus doesn’t get angry, and he wanted to know if the fact that he was feeling what I had been feeling about all of this meant that he had done something wrong, or that his faith was weaker than he thought.
You might be wondering the same thing. Is it ok for Christians to be angry? My simple answer is, it is perfectly ok for Christians to get angry about certain things. I call it “holy anger.”
Jesus got angry. In Matthew 21, Jesus enters the temple and sees that people have turned it into a marketplace, a business scam where the religious leaders were taking advantage of people. He was filled with rage. He didn’t gently knock over a table or two…he threw things around. Chairs bouncing off of the walls, tables flying, people ducking and hiding and taking cover. He was completely and utterly angry.
We also know Jesus never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5). The Bible tells us that He lived a perfect, sinless life, which is what made it possible for Him to take our sin on himself and die in our place. So despite the fact that Jesus was angry, He did not sin.
So is it ok to get angry? I believe that yes, sometimes in certain circumstances it is completely ok, even GOOD, for Christians to be angry. When women are raped or sold into slavery in the sex trafficking industry (which happens all the time in America), when children are abused, when innocent people suffer and starve and die while tyrants live richly and get fat and ignore the cries of their people, when terrorists kill, I believe God is angry. Why? Because nothing is more precious to God than life. He gives us life with His very breath. When we feel anger over these sorts of things, is it holy anger, godly anger. It’s the same anger God feels. I would go so far as to say that the more we feel angered by these sorts of injustices, the more like Christ we are becoming.
The catch is that there’s a fine line between anger and hatred. It’s hard to believe, but no matter how evil someone is or how terrible the things they do, we are to love them. WHAT?! Yeah, I know, I honestly don’t really always understand how it’s supposed to work either. All I know is that God made it clear that He loved us when we were at our worst, and we should love others at their worst, even when it’s something like what happened in Boston yesterday. We don’t condone their actions, we don’t excuse their sin, but it’s God’s place to judge, the Holy Spirit’s place to convict, and our place to love.
So in your anger, don’t sin by letting yourself hate. But by all means, feel angry. It’s ok. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. I realize that might be contradictory to something you’ve always thought, and you might disagree, but I believe we learn and grow best from Jesus’ example, and this seems pretty clear to me.
If you would like to talk more about this, I encourage you to begin a discussion in the comments below or contact me. I’m always open to discuss these things. I believe that’s how we all learn from each other.
Finally, I challenge you to pray for the victims, for the families of those who passed away, and for those who committed these acts. The last one will be the hardest, but if you’ll do it, you’ll literally feel yourself becoming more like Christ. I promise.