My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)
Was Jesus an angry man? I’ve been thinking of this lately. The political ads are beginning to increase. They are filled with jabs at opponents. Today marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11. People are remembering the horrible loss of life. Americans and Christians are under attack by terrorists around the world. It’s easy to become angry.
It seems everyone is angry about something. And it can get to the point where it consumes all of our energy. There is certainly plenty of fuel for the fire. But I have to ask myself how Jesus handled all of the injustices He experienced. What exactly made Him angry?
One of the events that recorded Jesus anger was the overturning of the money-changers’ tables in the temple. He was angry because they had taken something holy and made it an opportunity for financial gain. They had no care or concern for the spiritual well-being of their people. They were only interested in making money. His anger arose because a few were tainting the purpose of temple worship.
Jesus also became angry with the Pharisees. They were the spiritual leaders of the day but instead of honoring people, they imposed strict rules. They used their leadership as an opportunity to oppress people while Jesus offered freedom. Throughout His time on earth, Jesus challenged them because He knew they were leading people away from God. Their rules prevented people from worshipping God.
So, what makes us angry? Are we irate because the world doesn’t accept our views? Do we condemn those who don’t hold the same values? I suppose I would have to answer “yes” to all of those questions at some point. But what I realized is the thing that made Jesus angry was watching those He loved be led to believe they were not loved by God. He hated when people were told they didn’t matter to Him. I believe that’s why He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. I think that’s why he healed the blind man and forgave the woman caught in adultery. Over and over, He went to the imperfect and showed them they were meaningful to Him. Every day of His life Jesus showed people they didn’t have to be perfect to follow Him.
It is angering to remember 9/11. It is frustrating to hear of wars and brutality all over the world. And it’s saddening to see how we treat each other. It’s heart-wrenching to see how hate and condemnation lead to such violence. But, in my anger and in my sadness I have to remember Jesus’ love and His desire to have a personal and loving relationship with each and every person, regardless of their sin.