We value genuineness and hence transparency. We shun hypocrisy. We listen to the lament and impeccatory Psalms where psalmists authentically pour out their hearts to God. We infer we too can express ourselves genuinely to God.
Then we notice on social media or perhaps in personal conversations, disciples venting their rage and ranting. They might even claim to be justified before God because they are being transparent and genuine. What are we to think?
I am reminded that many missteps involve partial truths. We need to be careful.
We might begin by noticing a fundamental difference between the Psalms and contemporary rants. Within the Psalms individuals express their cries, concerns, fears and anger to the One who is enthroned in heaven and who is thus capable of doing something about them. On the other hand, social media and personal conversations involve spewing venom at people.
In my reading of scripture, some of the following points can be hard to hear. They do, however, provide a behavioral path forward for disciples who are outraged about the world in which they live.
- God will settle all accounts one day and he will take vengeance.
God’s people are repeatedly reminded to leave the vengeance to God instead of avenging it themselves. Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30
- Although during their lives some corrupt people might think that they got away with the bad things they have done, they won’t.
The cries of those who are abused ascend to God. The Judge sees all of the evidence revealing injustice and wickedness. James 5:1-6; Hebrews 4:13
- In a world distorted by evil, God’s people are to shine like stars revealing how God desires people to live.
We are tasked with exemplifying loving kindness and a willingness to forgive even our enemies. We overcome evil by doing good, rather than empowering evil to gain new legs through our actions and words. Romans 12:21; Luke 6:27: Mark 11:25; Philippians 2:14-16
- Although we might want to lash out, disciples are commanded to be patient and to control their speech.
A genuine devotion to God involves controlling our words and being patient. Human anger does not achieve God’s righteousness. James 1:19,26; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Timothy 2:4; James 5:7-11
- When social pressures and powerful influences expect us to conform in perpetuating their ungodly behavior, we stand tall for God regardless.
The disciple’s highest values revolve around dying to oneself in order to live for God. As such, loving God and loving others as oneself trumps all other behavioral paths and pressures. Luke 9:23-26; Mark 12:29-31; 2 Corinthians 5:15-18
Does this mean we are powerless to evoke change for the better? Of course not! What it means is that we do not pick up the tools of the evil one to viciously attack and fight for what is good. Rather, we use the powerful tools of God, such as the fruit of the Spirit, to work with God toward what is good.