Anger. It is something that we don’t talk about much. We have categorized anger as a sin; however, the emotion of anger is not a sin. According to Ephesians 4:26-27 (The Message), “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” We should get upset. We should get angry. What we do with the emotion of anger is what matters.
I was recently introduced to the concept of righteous anger. The greatest example of righteous anger in the Bible is when Jesus overturns tables in the synagogue. Here is the scene: People are selling stuff in the synagogue and extorting money from people. Jesus comes in and in the words of Drake, he is “upset!” Jesus turned over the tables in the synagogue and declares his anger and speaks truth to the purpose of the synagogue. Jesus got angry.
In Mark chapter 11 verses 15-18, it states:
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.”
A definition of righteous anger can also be coined as “Righteous indignation.” Righteous indignation is defined as “a reactive emotion of anger over mistreatment, insult, or malice of another. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice.” This definition sheds light on the motives of one’s anger- injustice. Anger can lead to hate with the wrong motivations. However, righteous anger with motivations that empathize with others injustice is an act of love. Anger can mature us, as the church, to shine our light in the darkness of this nation.
As we celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., this month, I am reminded of two of his quotes, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” and “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” We should be disappointed in the racist history of America, but it also gives us the opportunity to allow the love and the light that we, as the Church, are familiar with to shine and show others the love of God. Now is the time to act on that love.
Personally, I am gravely disappointed in the history and the role of Christian America when it comes to slavery, segregation, and the racial injustice that manifests today. However, I also know the truth and joy of being a Jesus follower and how my relationship with Jesus has guided my moral compass and directed me in love. On the onset of the Black Lives Matter movement, I became upset at the silence of the Church in the conversation and the Church’s lack of understanding of the issues. I knew that God had said that I would bring people together based on race, and I began to explore what God would have me to do.
After asking and seeking God, Mission Reconcile was birthed. Mission Reconcile is my response of anger to love. I love the Church. The Church has been critical in my spiritual growth and establishment of community. However, I know that the Church can be so much more. The vision of Mission Reconcile is to inspire all people to answer the call of being a reconciler. A call rooted in courage, unity, and harmony as an ambassador of God’s love and Jesus’ justice to create heaven on earth. Mission Reconcile seeks to bring single-race churches together to talk about race, racism, and create organic relationships that will equip people of faith to be social and racial justice conscious to make an impact on their community and dismantle racism.
According to Google the definition of overturn as a noun is “an act of turning over or upsetting something; a revolution, subversion, or reversal.” As the church, it’s time to overturn the injustices that we see in our nation and stop ignoring it. In other words, it time to get upset at the hate, racism, and poverty in America and move toward action. It is time for the church to be revolutionary and reflect the heart of Jesus.
As the Church, we have to overturn tables of fraud, of how Christian America was not only complicit in the continuation of slavery and racism in America but also responsible for the perpetuation of it. No matter your racial/ethnic identity, you should get angry at the history of America. The question is, “What will you do with that anger?” Will that anger turn into hate – whether it’s hate of self or hate of others or will your anger turn into love in advocacy of those who are affected by the glue that holds all the -isms and phobias together, racism?
After Jesus turns over the tables, the most interesting fact to me is that the crowd was amazed at his teaching and drew to him. People’s response to righteous anger was amazement! When talking about race and racism in America, emotions get high, and people get angry. White people get angry because they are being called racist. Black and brown people get angry because they are reliving trauma, racist situations, and realizing the oppression of the systemic racism in America. As a black woman, I am aware of the stigma of “angry black women.” How can we channel the anger of being a racist, being oppressed or stigmatized as angry into righteous anger? I think we have to look to God to answer that question individually because the root cause of each person’s anger is different. Ultimately, righteous anger moves us toward action in love and not hate.
At some point we have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. We have to overturn tables of racism, hate, and injustice. If you are not angry at the present hostility in America, you should ask yourself why? If you are angry at the present hostility in America, how will you react? In love or hate? In 2019 and beyond, I hope you will use your righteous anger to become passionate about a cause or issue that is greater than yourself. Once Jesus took a stand in the synagogue, the people who he defended drew to him and were in amazement.
Jesus did it.
You can too.
Kahlida is the Founder of Mission Reconcile and has an overwhelming desire for harmony and bringing people together. She is an attorney, teacher and effectively facilitates Mission Reconcile’s programming. She currently serves as Minister of Congregational Engagement at First Grace United Methodist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Above all, she is a reconciler. You can find and follow Kahlida on Instagram and Linkedin or contact her here.
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