Sinning Like a Christian Topic: Anger

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith Rev.

Rita S. Platt March 9, 2014;

First Sunday in Lent Sermon Series:

Sinning Like a Christian Topic: Anger

Scripture     Luke 19:45-48

Last year — 2013 — was a very hard year for firefighters. By the end of last summer, there had been more than 32,000 forest fires, and they had burned more than 5,300 square miles. Many states were affected, and even Yosemite National Park was threatened. At one point, the fire near Yosemite tripled in size overnight, ballooning to over 54,000 acres. In addition to the destruction of the fires themselves, the nation mourned the loss of 19 firefighters — members of the Prescott (Arizona) Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed Sunday, June 30, 2013, while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. It’s easy for fires to get out of control. There is great power and great danger in fire. But there are also benefits from forest fires. As the fire burns, it consumes the underbrush and opens the canopy to allow more sunlight through, permitting new growth.

It’s fitting to think about fire and new growth as we enter into this Lenten season. One of the common remarks in newscasts about forest fires is to say how much of it is under control.  Lent is a time for introspective work – a season to spend time reflecting upon how much of our life is under control? Our sermon series during Lent is designed to help us with this process.  The title of our series, “Sinning Like a Christian,” is based on a book by William Willimon.  I purchased this book about 6 months ago. Willimon’s comment on the back cover really resonated with me: “The ‘sins’ of non-Christians tend to be rather puny. For Christians, sin is not so much inherent in the human condition; rather sin is the problem we have between us and God. It is rebellion against our true Sovereign, an offense against the way the Creator intended us to be.” The goal of this series is to help us to examine who controls the “real you” — the parts of you known only to you and God. We will do that by focusing on some specific areas where we might sin.  This morning we are going to focus on Anger. Scripture: Luke 19: 45-48 Anger is a self-evident sin.  When there is an angry outburst we explain our behavior by saying,  “I lost it.”  When a child throws a temper tantrum he or she is often labeled “a spoiled brat.” And yet three of the gospel writers : Matthew, Mark and Luke, say  that on Palm Sunday when Jesus marched triumphantly into Jerusalem, the very first thing he did was walk into church and   violently drive the money changers from the Temple. Calling the officials “a gang of thieves,” turning over the tables, scattering coins and screaming, “The zeal for my Father’s house has consumed me.” Many biblical scholars believe that Jesus was crucified, in part, because of this angry outburst. The Bible records many instances where anger is expressed: * In resentful anger, Cain kills Abel. * When Moses comes down the mountain with the stone tablets and he sees the people worshipping an idol, he smashes the tablets. * In anger, Jonah refused to obey God’s call to go to Nineveh, and fled in the opposite direction to Tarshish. * Jesus’ first sermon in his hometown synagogue of Nazareth ended in an angry outburst – the people tried to kill him. But Church people shouldn’t get angry. * A parent shushes a child when he or she cries because of being upset. * We are trained over a life time to sit quietly and listen. * When someone is upset we work to soothe ruffled feathers. Willimon tells of a woman he counseled: her husband left her without warning after 2 years of marriage. He asked her , “Are you angry that your husband did this to you?” “No, not really angry, just hurt.” “You have a right to be angry with him. And maybe with God, also. After all, God told you to be faithful to your marriage vows and you were. But the other side of the bargain wasn’t kept. I would think you would be angry.” “No just hurt.” Some people think Christians aren’t supposed to get angry.  But anger is a natural, necessary response in the face of injustice. It is an acknowledgement that this is not the world as it is meant to be, not the world as God intended. Anger needs to be expressed: given to God in prayer, shared with trusted friends, pastor, or counselor. Why is it so important to express our anger? * When we turn our anger inward, when we try to suppress it; the result is often depression. * Bitterness comes when our anger is not dealt with. Anger should only be acted on with great care. When we have righteous indignation it is easy to think that we are right and everyone else is wrong. It affects the way we see the world, the way we speak to others. Listen to the rhetoric and you will see how easily it deteriorates to one person attacking another because that individual is on the wrong side of the issue. This morning I invite each of us to invite the Spirit to reveal our real self. Have there been times we have acted like a spoiled brat – throwing a temper tantrum?  Confess that . . . Do we have anger that you have pushed down…maybe for years.  Now is the time to trust God.  Don’t worry about using pretty words. Let it out. Allow God to heal you . . . Have there been times we have attacked others?  (Silent meditation)

Material in this sermon is taken from Sinning Like a Christian, chapter 4: ANGER, pps. 59-73;  Abingdon Press, copyright 2013, William H. Willimon author