So I've been reading what Jesus has to say about anger. I'm in the middle of Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy, which basically explores the Sermon on the Mount in the context of the Kingdom of God available through Jesus. It's kind of a heavy book (literally and figuratively) but it's so far been rewarding.
Anyway, in my experience the church tends to dismiss or explain away or just plain ignore the teachings of Jesus, particularly the ones we don't get. Especially the ones that don't fit into our pre-conceived idea that Jesus was only concerned about the individual salvation of souls after death. (I'm not saying he wasn't concerned about this, but if you read the biblical accounts, such a narrow interpretation of the "Gospel" just doesn't stand up to who Jesus was.)
Anyhoo, as I was reading that and looking at Jesus' words, like "If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell." Now as for the particulars, what the Greek really says is not to say to someone, "Raca!" which is an Aramaic expression of contempt, and not to call someone a fool. Easy enough, right? I can call someone all kinds of nasty hateful things without using the word fool. And it never occurred to me to diss someone with 1st century Palestinian Aramaic slang. I've got this anger thing handled.
Wait. No. I don't.
Because I get angry all the time. At crappy drivers, at all the bullcrap I see going on in the church, at people who simply annoy me. And at this moment I hear the gentle but firm voice of Jesus saying, "You've got to drop that crap. That bird won't fly." Willard goes into detail exploring how contempt, how anger and rage destroy us, and devalue the people around us. But it's not that hard to see how showing contempt for someone is totally incompatible with loving them the way Jesus does. Which is, of course, how I'm called to live.
How 'bout this? In the Kingdom of God (which I like to call God's Revolution) there will not be malice. There will not be contempt. There may perhaps be anger at injustice, but then there won't be any injustice, so there won't be a need for anger. In the Kingdom of God we will all be inspired and taught by Jesus to truly love our neighbor, our enemy, and everyone we meet (including ourselves).
So, if I don't let go of the anger I carry, if I don't learn to love in the way of Jesus rather than hate in the way of the world, I'll be hopelessly out of date in the Kingdom. I mean I'll just be totally behind the times. In the Kingdom, anger, lust, greed, and selfishness will be looked upon (rightfully) as incredibly backwards and destructive. Kind of how we look at medical leechings today. Or perhaps more accurately, how we see slavery. It's hard to imagine today how people who kept other people under subjugation could possibly think they were on the right track. Same thing with anger. We will look back and see this time in history and think we were totally blind.
I'd appreciate any prayers as God deals with this sin in my life. It's one of many, but I feel that the time to deal with this one is now.