Summary: In this first message in the new series Freedom From…, Dave deals with the topic of anger, introducing the most critical thing we need to do in order to stop being angry people.
Freedom From Anger
Freedom From... prt. 1
Wildwind Community Church
August 30, 2009
Colossians 3:1-8 (MSG)
1 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides.
2 Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.
4 When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.
6 It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger.
7 It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better.
8 But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
A woman once told evangelist Billy Sunday that she had a bad temper, but that it was usually all over in a minute. Sunday replied, "So is a shotgun, but it blows everything to pieces." Do you know those people who just come totally unhinged when they get upset? They spew nasty stuff all over everyone around them. Some of them do it again and again and them always apologize, but don't actually stop doing it. Others do it over and over and say, "I was venting."
Now this is not a message where I tell you that anger is sin and you shouldn't be angry and then leave it at that. I'm interested in anger as a force in our lives that somehow weaves itself around and in and through so much of who we are, and expresses itself in the ways the scripture text talks about: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity -- and in other ways as well. I'm interested this morning in anger as a force that both keeps us enslaved to our desires and shows how deeply enslaved we are. After all, why do we get angry in the first place?
James 4:1-2 (NCV)
1 Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you.
2 You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God.
And we so often do not ask God because we are enslaved to ourselves. We are the rulers over our own little kingdoms, each of us battling on behalf of ourselves and our loved ones, trying to get what's ours - or what we believe should be ours. We often live in a state of independence from God. Anger comes when our desires for our lives are frustrated, and the angrier we get, the more determined we are to make things right, which drives us further into dependence on ourselves, which by definition drives us further and further away from God and his infinite resources and love and peace.
This is the state we so often live in, and it shows itself in all the ways the scripture says. Bad tempers, irritability, meanness -- these forces of anger lie within us, always sharpening their swords, ready to do battle for us when we have gotten the short end of the stick, when someone has done us or someone we love dirty, when it becomes clear that God isn't going to ride in on a white horse and save us and so obviously this battle is mine. And so the sword is drawn, the battle is waged, and it is waged without God -- even though we wage so many battles in his name. Jesus said, "I am the truth," in John 14:6. And so at Wildwind we try to find, face, and follow the truth. And the problem with anger, in the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, is that “In a controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for truth and have begun striving for ourselves." The truth is that we do not have to act aggressively, either in defense or in offense, when we are in God.