We live in an angry time. If you wanted to, you could find something to offend or anger you online within moments. Even as I wrote this, I just saw a sponsored weblink for ’15 food snobs who love to complain’. We live in an age of outrage, of frustration.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools”. I wish I lived according to that wisdom, but I struggle with having that anger provoked in me. That could be something minor, like someone walking too slowly in front of me, or something major like a team having more than 6 people in a pub quiz.
But God isn’t like us right? God can’t be provoked to anger, surely?
The Bible tells us God is slow to anger. But slow to anger doesn’t mean He doesn’t get angry. There’s a bit in the Bible we don’t think of much, where Jesus turns over tables and makes a whip to drive people out of the temple. That doesn’t fit with our storybook image of Jesus holding a lamb, with a halo over his head. But if we don’t look at this, we minimise God and who He is.
You see, Jesus has spent his time with the outcast in society, who could come to these outer courts to hear about God. It’s in this place that people are selling goods, making money and taking away from people hearing about God. Jesus’ anger is key here as it shows the passion for which God wants his people to know Him. Injustice should provoke things in us, it should make us angry. Yet when Jesus was angry, he didn’t sin. That needs to be the way for us.
But before we finish, be careful of just thinking that making God angry is something other people do. We can look at others and be glad we’re better than that, but the truth is that we’re not. We all make mistakes and do selfish things which can anger God. We maybe don’t think about it because we fear the consequences. Yet my Bible tells me that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). It’s one of the first Bible verses I learned, and that truth has kept me going for many years.
So today, ask God if there are things in our life we need to repent and say sorry for. Ask Him to open your eyes to the injustice that should provoke us to take action. And as we do, be bold enough to hand over control to the Holy Spirit, letting Him shape and re-make us in His image, not just our own ways.