angry manHave you been watching the news the past few days? I have, and I’m seeing some irate Americans out there at these town hall meetings. I suppose we can expect more of the same through the summer break for Congress, but what are we to make of such outbursts? If you agree with the tirade of the protester, do you smile a bit, vicariously living through them to express what you wish you could? Does your heart share in the anger and silently cheer them on?

I received a good quote from a friend today. He related these words from Vance Havner: “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”

What provides the combustion, the energy, the explosion? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  Take part in the rantings against your government if you want, in the privacy of your living room or out at your local TEA party.  You’ve got the right to do that as an American, but before you do, consider this:  You are exchanging the true power to change this world for an inferior, pathetic method.

It’s the difference between the H bomb and a firecracker.  It’s internal versus outward change.  It’s lasting versus superficial change.  Eternal versus temporal.  Your anger may be assuaged by winning some key seats in the next election, but you and I know what’s going to happen – those seats will be lost again sometime. 

Also consider that if you are a follower of Christ, you don’t have the luxury of deciding how you will impact your world.  You’ve been given your commission:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you...” (Matthew 28:19, 20).  If the church would just focus there, even to our elected officials, we would be following Christ’s mandate.

Consider one last thing.  Our anger does not bring about eternally beneficial results: “This you know, my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19, 20).

Did Jesus get mad?  Sure.  Did Paul get outraged?  No question.  Did Peter disobey his rulers?  Yes.  But why?  Righteous indignation is borne from a desire to see God magnified and made known.  In all biblical examples of righteous anger, the motivation is always centered on God and following His mandate to teach His truth to all nations.  Is that the motivation of angry American Christians today?

Christianity is meant to be counter-cultural, but we Christians in America are blending in pretty well when it comes to our political involvement.  Havner was right.  Criticism and conformity will not only fail in changing our world,  they will keep us distracted from the very power we’ve been given to make that change.

If we’re going to get hot under the collar, we’d better have the right reason behind it.