Introduction: Anger Types & Series Intro.
Dr. David Powlison opens his book Good & Angry talking about 2 types of angry people. The first he identifies as the VOLCANIC anger group. This group usually responds to their anger with explosive outburst. It can seem like to outsider the anger seems sudden and reactionary, but the truth is the explosions came from built up wounds or a series things they are stringing together. The second group he identifies as the ICEBERG people. This group usually responds to their anger with insular exclusion—often they become very cold and distant. Like the volcano group they are calculating the data patterns and retreating into a shell of self-protection. This can result in monotone, logical, pre-meditated harmful thoughts.
Why is this important? I think this is important because what Powlison is attempting to teach us everyone gets angry. The fruit of our anger may be different, but the roots are the same. Some fruits of our anger are more culturally acceptable than others. Therefore, understanding the driving force behind our anger is much more important than focusing on the manifestation or fruit of our anger. If you cannot admit today that you are an angry person then you will not get much out of this series, and you will probably not develop healthy anger (which is possible).
Some of you might be asking why are series on anger anyway? Good question. First, I strongly believe everyone gets angry so we need to know what it is. Second, we need to understand anger is merely an emotion like fear, worry, happiness, love and et cetera, so it is a healthy part of the human experience. Third, how to can this God-given emotion be used to glorify Him and pursue the good of all peoples.
As we explore ANGER today we are going to do so through 2 main texts. As we examine these two texts my hope and prayer is we will see…
Theme: Our world is angry and Christians are called to be peacemakers.
1. Analyzing The Problem—READ Ephesians 2.14.
As we consider this verse in Ephesians 2 if we say we affirm the Bible as the Word of God then we must consider God’s evaluation of our world. God’s analysis of our world is it is HOSTILE. Another way of saying this is we are angry with others. We have legitimate enemies.
In the context of our passage the “dividing wall of hostility” are two things. The FIRST wall of hostility is between God and us, so let’s examine a few of verses in more detail—READ Ephesians 2.12, 14-18. What is explicit here is there was a legitimate problem between God and the world. This becomes very clear as we examine the role Jesus played helping to tear down the wall of hostility. The primary Jesus serves in is a PEACEMAKER. Sprinkled through this paragraph are multiple phrases communicating this to us—“For he himself is our PEACE,” (2.14), “so making PEACE” (2.15), “And he came and preached PEACE” (2.17). There is no reason for Christ to serve in this peacemaker role unless there is some hostility between two parties. Some people might like to say they don’t have problem with God, but that is not what God says. Hear the words of the apostle in his most thorough letter:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.—Romans 1.18
According to the Bible God is ANGRY with the world. I know this is a widely unpopular idea today because of some our misperceptions about anger, but God is perfectly righteous, loving, just and pure in His anger. Imagine going out with a friend or on a date and just ignoring the person you are with. Imagine being in a relationship or romantic relationship, and you know what it will take to have a good healthy relationship, but you just do whatever when you know it will hurt the other person. This is what Romans 1 describes in our relationship with God and why He is angry. God is willing to acknowledge He is angry with us, but we are not willing to recognize they are angry with Him. He has every right to be angry and we do not.
The SECOND wall of hostility is between the Jews and Gentiles. We can see the tension between these two groups in phrases like—“called the ‘uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision,” (2.11) “commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenant of promise,” (2.12) “who were far off…who were near” (2.17). The Jews and Gentiles were groups who were enemies politically, ethnically, socially, religiously, and et cetera. Now the thing is no one in our western American context wants to admit this still exist our society today. We would love to pat ourselves on the back and think we have evolved past these types of trivial matters. The truth is we have become more sophisticated in our hostility. Let’s face it friends as the temperatures rise in the West we are beginning to see the “DIVDING WALLS” become clearer. Walls continue to be raised up politics, ethnic and social issues, around gender and sexual ordination wars, what constitutes a human, and so much more.
Simply put as Scripture analyzes this problem the assessment is we live in hostile world full of angry people. I do not believe it is hard to see. If you do not see it could be because you do not realize you are one of those angry people.
2. Accepting Our Identity—READ II Corinthians 5.17-20.
Now that we have seen the problem I believe this passage will help see the vision God has for us moving forward. In order to get that vision I think we need to make a few basic observations of this meaty text sprinkled with some spicy other texts to add some flavor.
According to II Corinthians 5.14 we are now controlled by the “love of God.” It was the love of God that sent Jesus Christ into the hostile angry world to be our peacemaker, the meditator between God and humanity. II Corinthians 5 also reminds us of the manner or action of this love—the death of Christ. Once again in Paul’s letter to the Romans he tells us something vital here, “…Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom 3.24-25). The key word here is “propitiation.” This was one of those words in seminary that made me realize how little I knew about the Bible. So, simply put this means God put forth His Son to serve as an instrument to defer His anger or wrath away from us. At the Cross Christ received all of God’s righteous white-hot pure anger so people like you and me don’t have to. Paul is reminding us of this loving act in II Corinthians 5. He says this loving act should change the way we live—“and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him.” (II Cor 5.15)
If we truly believe this loving act actually accomplished something for us, and want to live for Christ then God gives us a new identity. All of this is the context of our passage I read toward the beginning of this point, so let me read it again—READ II Corinthians 5.17-20. Through Christ God has changed or aligned our story with His instead of the rest of the world. We are now called in the same ministry as Christ. We are ministers of reconciliation. We are now called to be PEACEMAKERS along with Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5.9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Being an instrument of peace, in world full of hostility, identifies you with God. Our world is angry and we are God’s peacemakers.
And the peace are talking about is not merely vertical between God and people, but is also horizontal between people and people. Are called to pursue both and not drift into one extreme or the other. Some people are wonderful peacemakers between people but they could care a lick about peace God and people. Others are great peacemakers between God and people, but they think that is all that matters. Friends as God’s ambassadors we should always be striving toward both ends.
Let me close with a few final thoughts to consider in light of all of this. Dr. Powlison tells us in his book Good & Angry that anger can play a wonderful role in problem solving, but we rarely use it that way. We will explore this more as the series moves along, but I want to leave with a working view of anger because it helps think through the opportunity anger gives us. What anger is simply having a perception of good, but noticing something is preventing that from happening. Friends, if we can truly perceive the goodness of God and others, because then anger can be a wonderful tool God can use to glory Himself and bring more joy into everyone’s life. I pray God will begin this work in us throughout this series.