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February 1, 2014

There's a place for righteous anger

As I write this article, I am filled with anger. A disabled boy I know from Christian camp was recently portrayed in a compromising pose on the website of a popular Boston sports entertainment website, supposedly for a good laugh. I joined with other friends of the family to seek justice, or at least an apology. I asked myself, why am I so enraged by this since I don’t even know the family all that well? The only answer I could come up with is Jesus was also enraged.

Jesus showed gentle grace and empowering forgiveness toward all he met including prostitutes, divorcees, blind and crippled beggars, mentally ill, and those with communicable diseases who were often, like my friend’s disabled boy, ridiculed and marginalized. But when Jesus saw injustice, he spoke out with brutal indignation, and when he saw injustice within his Father’s house (the Jerusalem Temple), his righteous anger let loose. Those selling animals for sacrifices and changing money for financial offerings were charging significant markups. Worshipers were forced to pay these exorbitant rates for sacrifices at the Temple, and would have especially impacted those traveling long distances in pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

So we read about our gentle Savior: Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “my house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13). Interestingly, the very next verse reports that the blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

Though my anger isn’t always righteous, I believe there is a very real place for righteous anger for those who follow Jesus, though I also take note that the anger of Jesus never harmed another person, ever.

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