By Dr. Donald Whitchard
Several years ago the noted preacher Dr. Charles Stanley wrote a book whose title caught my attention. It was called “Surviving in An Angry World”. While I’ve never read it, I can make an educated guess as to what might be the thesis contained within its pages, and it is that this world as we know it is feeding off of the emotion of anger. People are angry over political parties and their platforms, each side presenting issues and problems that need to be addressed but so far, have produced no valid solutions that could be beneficial to both sides of the aisle and improve the conditions by which we live. Another issue that stirs up national and individual anger is that of the changing attitudes and ideas concerning moral and ethical issues. One side has a more progressive and secular plan of handling controversial topics while others take a side and belief that issues such as these need to be grounded in a set foundation established by a belief in God or Supreme Being who guides the affairs of humanity. It is a known fact that those who profess religious belief will agree that there are some areas of debate that can only find a solution in basing one’s belief in the teachings of a religious figure and abiding by their respective ideas. Anger erupts when these two philosophies clash in the public eye and people use emotion to justify the reason as to why they support or oppose certain theoretical solutions to problems.
Attitudes of belief and faith also cause dissention and anger within religious circles. Wars have been fought over who was right and who was wrong in their respective outlook on how to worship God, how to approach holy objects, who should rule over a country, the role of established religious figures, and whose religious teaching would be supreme in the land with the losers either being exiled or put to death for blasphemy or other charges. Often there is also the use of torture to extract either information or confession of alleged wrongdoing. Something else worth noting is the anger that families often feel for one another over issues like inheritances, care for an elderly or injured parent, alleged favoritism, abuse of various types, and emotional scars based on incidents that the offended does not wish to forgive or forget, arguments that were never settled – the list goes on.
There is opportunity to present the angry and often cruel and unjustified consequences for such behavior in the heart of man. Much could be written of how lives were ruined by constant anger, crimes of passion that often end with the loss of life and the torment of guilt afterwards, broken relationships, divided families, shattered marriages, delinquent children who are expressing anger over what their parents had allegedly or actually done to them, the absence of parental guidance and advice, the lack of forgiveness, ugly attitudes, anger at God for the alleged lack of concern or care for the well-being of an individual, trauma that lingers in someone’s mind, deep depression, or a host of other emotions based on anger and rage against being wronged or looked over for something important, like a raise or promotion. The offices of psychiatrists and counselors are crowded with individuals who will simply not let their anger go and attempt to move on with life.
It seems as if anger is an obsession in modern life that will not be satisfied until everyone is in the same frame of mind with no inevitable solution upon which they can agree. The truth is that as a general observation, people don’t want a solution or settlement. They are comfortable with their anger and do not wish to let it go, believing that their anger will protect them from being hurt or taken advantage of ever again. It is in essence a barrier they put up to cover up emotional pain or to justify what they perceive as the world and its inhabitants against them and the belief that their respective rights have been trampled on. They tend to believe that if they stay angry, it is in essence a type of security against those who have hurt or misunderstood them in the past. It is to them a type of insurance that will protect them from experiencing any more pain or misunderstanding. The individual who is swallowed up in anger will not open up to anybody who may be able to offer advice that will help them let go of it and get on with life. In the realm of Christian witness, these are probably the hardest of individuals to try and reach with the comfort of the Word of God and the peace found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We have to ask ourselves the question as to whether or not there is a time and place for justifiable anger. It was brought upon us by the fall of man in Eden. Anger is a consequence of disobedience of God’s standards, and we see this when Cain killed his brother Abel over what was and was not an acceptable sacrifice. When used as a reason to do something that is contrary to what the LORD wants from us, or to seek self-justification for an alleged crime against individuals or society as a whole, it is a source of sin and is worthy of judgment by the LORD as He sees fit. An act of rage or sudden anger can result of lost opportunities. Moses lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land due to an act of anger against the Israelites by striking a rock for water instead of speaking to it as God commanded. It seems as if the great lawgiver saw himself as the source of the water instead of from the LORD. This was attributing God’s power and mercy to a mere man, no matter how noble he may be. Let this episode serve as a stern warning to not see yourself as indispensable to God. He has a way of humbling the biggest ego.
As the history of Israel progressed, we come to the period when the nation asked for a king instead of depending upon the guidance and direction of the LORD. The prophet Samuel warned the people about the consequences, yet they persisted in their demand and they ended up with Saul, handsome in appearance and in the beginning devoted to God. As we read in the annals of 1 Samuel, Saul began to disobey the direct commands of God and rely more upon himself to decide what was sufficient for the nation’s well-being. As we know, his disobedience caused him to lose his kingdom and in essence be abandoned by God. Samuel was then led to the house of Jesse to find a king of God’s approval and found David, the “man after God’s own heart.” The Spirit of God was upon the boy and was anointed the next king of Israel. As we read in the narrative, Saul’s jealousy towards the military successes of David grew into devilish hatred and Saul attempted to take David’ life on several occasions. As 1 Samuel draws to a close, the angry and abandoned Saul falls prey to the ruthless army of the Philistines.
As history progressed and the nation turned towards idolatry, righteous anger from the prophets such as Elijah challenged both king and commoner to come to a decision, with nobody being allowed to be neutral. Either Baal was God, or the LORD. The LORD showed His power by consuming the sacrifice that Elijah had placed upon an altar of Yahweh that had been torn down. The prophetic narrative found in the rest of the Old Testament shows us that there is a time and place for anger to be demonstrated, especially when we find the nation of Israel falling deeper and deeper into gross idolatry and performing despicable events such as sacrificing children to the bloodthirsty demonic deity Moloch. The prophets continually warned the people that God was going to punish them for their wickedness and His righteous anger would be put on display for not just them, but for all the nations to see what becomes of a people who shake their fist in God’s face and dare Him to do something about it. The time of the exile in Babylon finally purged them of such behavior and turned them back to the worship of God and Him alone. If God did not spare His people Israel from the consequences of disobedience, it is my belief that He will not put up with America’s godless behavior either. I shudder to think of what He could do to us when His righteous anger comes upon us.
Righteous anger is also found in the life and ministry of Jesus. Two examples are when He drives the moneychangers and extortionists out of the Temple, not once, but twice in His ministry. He was justifiably angry at how the Pharisees and religious officials had turned the worship of God into an opportunity to cash in on the purchase of approved sacrificial animals, the exchange of money into approved temple currency at high rates of interest, essentially ripping off the public who just wanted to be able to worship the LORD. The religious officials had turned the Temple into a money-making business in the name of godly expectations. Jesus would have none of it. He declared that the LORD’s house was a house of prayer, but that these religious charlatans had turned it into a “den of thieves”. When religion becomes a big business, whatever effect it had for good in the past has gone away and left a putrid corpse of rotting flesh that serves no purpose but to be buried in the cemetery of abused opportunities for the advancement of noble and allegedly holy goals. This corrosive attitude was a characteristic of the religious officials who received the burning accusations of Jesus towards them in Matthew 23. Our LORD pulled no punches, but bluntly told them what He thought of them and their attitudes. Would that preachers of today have the same attitude towards the cancer of hypocrisy in the church of modern America and the world at large!
We have allowed the rotting touch of sin to invade the purpose of the church and that is to be a holy people and win souls to Christ in spite of the onslaught of wickedness and persecution. We have replaced the authority of Scripture with the opinions of men who are not fit to be called ministers of the Word. We have allowed the specter of worldly behavior to influence our churches to welcome people into the fellowship who are nothing more than troublemakers and servants of Satan to cause division and ineffectiveness in the mission of the church.
We have welcomed those whose lifestyle is in direct opposition as to what a follower of Jesus Christ ought to be without praying that they repent of their behavior and submit to the Lordship of Christ. We have turned the house of God into a lounge of sorts, where “cool” so-called “worship” music is played with the same lyrics and tune being repeated over and over again, often with shallow references to the nature and character of a holy God. We have allowed the pastors to assume the role of “moderator” in establishing a dialogue of “understanding” and “acceptance” done in the name of being “tolerant”. In my years as a minister, I have seen the decline of soul-stirring preaching that convicts the individual of his or her sin and draws them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord. I have seen the “dumbing down” of curriculum in my respective denomination, eliminating the need to think through the deep things of God and grow.
These things stir up anger in me and it seems that people like me who want to see God glorified in the worship and work of His people have been left out in the cold, being regulated to a past that they wish to wipe away and regulated to a more primitive time when subjects like the reality of hell were part of the faithful preacher’s portfolio. I am angry that the majority of people in this nation have essentially abandoned any faith in the reliability of the LORD to do a great work in them, relying instead upon secular philosophy to answer their moral and ethical questions. I am angry that this nation has rejected the role of God in our development and history. I am angry at people who abuse, slander, mock, destroy, blaspheme, and demean those of us who hold on to a belief that, in the end, God will win and those who mock God and champion their respective lifestyle and philosophy will be thrown, along with their soul, into the garbage can of hell for all eternity.
We read in the book of Revelation that the world’s devilish anger at God will peak and be worked up into a state of fanatical hatred towards Him, fueled by the dictates of the Antichrist and his father the devil. This maniacal behavior will culminate at the battle of Armageddon, when the Lord Jesus comes back with His saints to rid the world of evil, punish the wicked, and establish a kingdom of peace and prosperity for a thousand years. When that time comes to an end, those who rebelled against Christ’s perfect rule, along with the wicked of all time, will face the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne, be judged, and thrown along with the devil into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. The new heaven and the new Earth will be established by the LORD and He will wipe all our tears away, and we will live with Him in our glorious new home for all time. When that day comes, and believe it is closer than we think, He will take away our anger towards evil, injustice, abuse, and those things that had kept us in a state of righteous anger and bitter tears will be gone for all time. There will be no more anger in the kingdom of God, but eternal joy in knowing that we are His children, and His love for us will never draw to a conclusion. Anger is something I’m ready to get rid of, and the LORD will make sure that what has upset me on Earth will be settled in the courts of heaven. LORD, I’m ready. Come quickly.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.