"But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language." Colossians 3:8
I’m not a prophet but I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that about half the country is going to be angry Tuesday night. Of course, that’s the time when we learn who our next president will be.
Every election cycle has its share of vitriol, and there’s always an article about “politics has always been rough.” The author, every cycle, brings up the stories of vicious insults about Lincoln’s appearance for example. Implied is the idea that we’re not facing anything new. I think what we’re facing this year is new. Perhaps not in the degree of venom, but certainly in the quantity. After all, those insults about Lincoln weren’t tweeted and posted on fb. We have a unmatched megaphone for malice today. And that is NOT a good thing.
I write this GraceWaves a few days before the election not from a political motivation, of course, but from a pastoral point of view. Anger is not your friend. I’m sure you’ve heard that anger is like taking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. It’s true. Anger exacts a huge spiritual toll. It’s like feeding a wolf inside you. One day it will turn and devour you. Get angry, and you may get your way but you’ve poisoned your soul.
I can hear the wheels turning now, “But what if I have a right to be angry?” Let’s leave aside for the moment the BIG reasons, like the Holocaust. Sure there are really big things that deserve an angry response. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the dozens of daily events that can provoke us to anger. Do you have a right to be angry? I suppose. But is it useful? Or does it just hurt and anger people around you, and make you mentally simmer?
I believe there is a message in our anger, but when we’re angry we’re very poor at reading that message. We need cool headed people to help us understand where our anger is really coming from. We need cool headed people to help us “get rid of the anger and rage.”
The other common objection is “well, Jesus got angry!” That’s true. He did. And He was the Son of God. That’s probably significant. So don’t use the cleansing of the temple as a justification for your next road rage incident.
Now specifically as this topic applies to the election, let me tell you an election story that will probably make some of you angry and unsubscribe to GraceWaves. The election of 1968 featured Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace (bet you forgot him!). The 60’s were a tumultuous decade of war, assassinations, riots, general unrest, and a lot of anger. The race was close and the results reflected that. In the popular vote Nixon beat Humphrey 43.4% to 42.7%. Wallace garnered nearly 10 million votes or 13.5%. So a lot of people were unhappy with the results.
My mother was a Republican and even though I was only 10 years old at the time I can remember some of the political discussions in our home. There was anger and probably a little fear (which are first cousins by the way). Mom had definite opinions. But I can clearly remember her saying something that has stayed with me all of my life. As a kind of final verdict she said, “whoever we elect is going to be my president.”
I don’t predict elections, but I can predict what will happen next January. We will have an inauguration and the change of power will take place without mass killings or violent riots in the streets or tanks on Pennsylvania Avenue. In fact, by comparison to some countries around the world, the next president will take office with hardly a ripple.
And the next president will be my president because I am an American raised to respect, not just the office, but the person who holds the office. Additionally, I am a Christian who, in my scripture, is exhorted to “honor the emperor.” In case, you’ve forgotten the emperor at that time was Nero, not exactly a friend to Christians. The church thrived under Nero. You may not care for one or the other candidates, but I doubt either one is going to throw us to the lions. Get rid of anger.
Think of how different the mood of the country would be if Mr. Trump said, “If Mrs. Clinton is elected, she will be my president.” And if Mrs. Clinton said, “If Mr. Trump is elected, he will be my president.”
I know you’re thinking that if you said that about the other candidate you risk throwing up in your mouth. But if you get rid of anger, then you can say it, mean it, and probably be at least 10% happier generally.
There are times when the Bible we profess to love so much really irritates us, and this may be one of those times. But when Paul wrote, “get rid of anger” he didn’t say except when your candidate loses. The prohibition is simple, direct, and pervasive.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT NOMINEES!!
Stop. Quit feeding that wolf. Be politically informed and active. But get rid of anger.
Dr. Terry Ellis
November 6, 2016