Working with a toddler is hard!
Now I know that every parent who reads those words is thinking, “Duh! Way to state the obvious!”
My three year old grandson is going through some interesting developments, including learning how to deal with being angry. We are trying to guide him to understand that while “it’s okay to be angry,” what he might choose to do in his anger might not be “okay,” and in fact might lead to some consequences which he might not like.
I get it from his perspective…he wants what he wants, thinks what he thinks, and the rest of us should just accept it and move along! And of course these situations always cause me to ponder, “are we, the grownups, all that different?”
These days I hear and read a lot of people’s thoughts on “what would Jesus do” during this pandemic and political climate. And, as many have pontificated, Jesus was big on loving people. I totally agree with that statement. Jesus was always loving…even when He was angry.
I don’t have the space in this article to go over all the times throughout scripture in which God demonstrates His love to us through actions which appear angry. It is important to state, there is presented at least two themes in scripture regarding anger.
There is something we term “righteous anger” and secondly, we are told to not “sin” in our anger. This comes up in both the old and the new testament.
And of course in this day and age, people want to know specifically what Jesus did. Well, we have a couple of demonstrations to look at…both times in which Jesus “cleansed the Temple”.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, there are description of Jesus going into the Temple and physically turning over tables and driving out “money changers” and those who were apparently more concerned with the “business” of the Temple than the heart and mission of the Temple.
Now as much as I would like to go through the story and break it all down, time and space does not allow for this. Instead I need to keep to the “30,000 foot view” and share my purpose in sharing this story is to make sure Jesus is painted in an accurate light.
Currently, I can have several conversations with strangers and ask them questions about “Christians” or about the “church” and get a wide range of comment. When I talk to people who claim to be Christ followers, I get very similar comments to those who claim no religious belief or are more agnostic or atheistic…depending on their view on current affairs, they will name some name on the “other side” of their camp and begin to pontificate on how wrong the “other side” is.
Now I think I know what you are about to think…you are about to think I want to explain why that is wrong. But I won’t. At least not at its core value.
The challenge we have at this juncture in our communities is not that we have disagreements. We should have them! Why? Because there are complicated things going on around us and we need to have very pointed dialogue! And it may get passionate.
When Jesus turned over tables it was loud and disruptive. Somehow the church of the day had gotten to a point wherein they were accepting of something that God found repulsive. And Jesus acted upon it.
Now lest you think I am advocating for wrecking things, I am not! Because the same scriptures which bring us demonstrations of God’s anger and acting out also tell us “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” Psalm 4:4
So at the same time, God is speaking us towards action and towards sitting in stillness and contemplating.
Recently, three happenings helped to reinforce for me this call to action in a Godly manner.
The first happened in this very space. A local pastor shared his opinion in a Church Corner article and then posted it to Facebook. Apparently it generated a lot of difficulty for him because of attacks and slander on his family. While I don’t necessarily agree with article, he was acting on his conscious and I respect and admire his action.
Second, a video circulated recently from one of the Enumclaw City Council members regarding this person’s comments to the Courier-Herald. This councilperson I believe had sent a letter and they read the letter and commented on the thoughts and why they wrote. Again, they were called to action and they did so in what I believe to be a most respectful manner. They also invited others into the conversation!
Third, was something which occurred in Tennessee. A school district had mandated that teachers and coaches could not lead or participate in prayer at school events. So after a football game, one of the players led both teams and those in attendance in prayer. This student acted on their own after they felt an injustice had been served.
In our community and in our nation as a whole, we are facing serious issues and in the midst it seems we may be missing the largest issue of all. While COVID, politics, mandates, freedom, and fear are all serious and important topics of the day, none of these are as important as what we do in the process.
We need to find the spirit which includes both “stillness” and “action.” We need to find the path toward dialogue and respect for each other’s views even as we disagree and seek to change minds and hearts. We need to recognize in others they may also want what is best for those around them and yet it may not look like it if we haven’t attempted to look at the world from their vantage point.
It is a hard lesson to grasp, as my grandson is learning, but sometimes “loving well” looks like respectful confrontation.
We need to be more like Jesus, who loved others even enough to turn over tables.