First, let me say that in the three situations that I mentioned last week, three church shootings over a period of almost 40 years, some of the perpetrators either were dealing with or were later diagnosed with mental illnesses that were likely part of the reasons for those shootings. Anger was also obvious in all three instances. Not all anger results in the loss of life.
The dictionary describes anger as “a strong passion or emotion of displeasure, and usually antagonism, excited by a sense of injury or insult.” Although we normally think of anger as an emotion, it is in reality a cluster of emotions involving the body, the mind, and the will.
And we don’t sit down and say, “I think I will now experience anger.” Anger is a response to some event or situation in life that causes us irritation, frustration, pain, or other displeasure. Thousands of events and situations have the potential for provoking anger. A thoughtless comment, a “tailgater” on the highway or a “slow-poke” on the way to work, a rant on Facebook, a father who was always angry about something while you were growing up…any number of things can trigger trouble in your managing of your own anger.
Anger has been described as the opposite of love. Love draws us to another person; anger pits us against the person, place, or thing that sparked the emotion.
The body also gets in on the experience of anger. The body’s nervous system “gets the adrenaline flowing.” Depending upon the level of anger, any or all of the following may happen physically. The adrenal glands release two hormones: epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). These two chemicals seem to give people the arousal, the tenseness, the excitement, the heat of anger, and in turn these hormones affect the heart rate, blood pressure, lung function, and digestive tract activity. These changes in our bodies can give us the feeling that we have no control over ourselves. Anger has hijacked our bodies.
So, why do we get angry? Where does that come from? Some say that anger is a sin that comes straight from Satan and from the pits of hell. I respectfully disagree. I believe that the human capacity for anger is rooted in the nature of God, and from the fact that we as human beings are created in the image of God. I am not suggesting that anger is a part of the nature of God, but suggest that you consider two aspects of God; holiness and love. Anger comes when one or both of those two aspects of God are violated.
The scriptures never say that God is anger. God is holy. God is love. Love and Holiness are part of God’s character. Anger is not part of His character. However, God experiences anger. The word anger is mentioned in the Old Testament 455 times, 375 of these refer to God’s anger.
“God is angry with the wicked every day” Psalm 7:11
God’s anger is not limited to the Old Testament. When you read the life of Jesus you will see that He experienced anger. Because God is holy and because God is love, God necessarily experiences anger. His love seeks the good of His creatures. His holiness stands against sin. All of God’s moral laws are based on His holiness and His love. When either holiness or love is violated…God… Gets… Angry!
One of the most basic tenets of Christianity and Judaism is that we are created by Him in His image. Anger is the emotion that arises whenever we see what we perceive to be a violation of holiness and love…and anger is intended to “right the wrong.”
Anger is not evil; anger is not sinful; anger is not a part of our fallen nature; anger is not Satan at work in our lives. Quite the contrary. Anger is evidence that we are made in God’s image; it shows that we still have some concern for justice and righteousness in spite of our fallen state. The capacity for anger is strong evidence that we are more than mere animals. The experience of anger is evidence of our nobility, not our depravity.
So, what is the problem with anger? Anger is easily mismanaged or allowed to get out of control. Anger out of control or mismanaged is like an atomic bomb. Like detonating an atomic bomb, destruction happens when anger hijacks our thinking.
Anger as God intends it is just as “nuclear” as an atomic bomb. The difference is that anger under control and properly managed is like the nuclear reactor that produces power for millions.
We will see more next week on controlling and managing the anger in us.