Friday, September 11, 2015

Peace or Anger? (Letter to a Brother) Page 1

Dear Brother,

You asked me about anger, about how to deal with it, how to avoid it. I told you that I’d write some things down for you to ponder, I apologize for the delay, it isn’t that I haven’t been thinking about your request, but it takes time for seeds to germinate – I think our time with our friends last night helped the sprouts break through the soil; there is nothing quite like koinonia to encourage growth.

Of course the anger that we’re discussing is destructive and sinful anger; there is a righteous anger. Our collective problem is that we have too much of the former and a dearth of the latter. To ponder anger is not enough however, we must also ponder peace, for after all we are the sons and daughters of the Prince of Peace. Our lives should reflect who we are, not who we aren’t.

Isaiah writes (Isaiah 9:6 – 7a), “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…”

Elsewhere Isaiah (59:8) writes about people who “do not know the way of peace.” We might say that on this planet there are two highways, two ways of life, and while these two ways of life have many designations, in our context the designations are “the way of the Prince of Peace” and “the way of sinful anger.” Consider that in the Sermon on the Mount, which was, as far as we know, Jesus’ first recorded public sermon outside a synagogue, that early in His message (Matthew 5:21 – 26) He deals with ungodly anger – placing it on the same plane as murder. Perhaps anger is the door through which murderers enter? Perhaps a perpetually angry heart is a perpetually murderous heart? Perhaps ungodly anger kills not only the soul of the one who nourishes it, but perhaps it also deals death to those to whom it is directed? Certainly Jesus’ words in Matthew are a wake-up call to us who desire to follow Him, a sobering warning that we’d better pay attention to who He is, who we are in Him, and whether or not we are living as “the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13 – 16).

Aren’t Jesus’ words in Matthew Chapter Five what we might expect from the Prince of Peace announcing His Kingdom and setting forth the principles and constitution of His Kingdom? Jesus goes on in the Sermon on the Mount by teaching about peace in sexual purity, peace in marriage, peace in our language, peace when wronged, and peace with those whose aim is to harm us. Jesus is teaching us what “the way of peace” looks like – it looks like Jesus, and no wonder for He is the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah writes, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…” We are called to live under the government (lordship) of Jesus Christ, and in so doing we are called to be His agents in the increase of His government and of His peace. Therefore, the life and peace of Jesus Christ is to displace anger in our lives and we are to share His peace wherever we go. His peace is to increase in our lives, in our hearts and minds; our souls are to be souls of peace – and we are to be ambassadors of peace in a world of anger and violence.

Paul writes (Colossians 3:15), “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Who is to rule my heart? What is to rule my heart? Will it be Jesus or me? Will it be the peace of Jesus Christ or will it be my selfish anger? Every temptation to anger presents me with a decision, will my heart submit to the peace of Christ or will my anger and self-will rebel against His peace and attempt to dethrone Him from the rule of my heart? Will I be a rebel or a disciple? Will I be a wise son or a foolish son? Will I deviate from the way of peace and follow the tsunami of the world’s anger? Will I be an agent for the increase of His government and of His peace?

When we drive a car we ought to drive only when sober. When we live life we ought to live soberly – aware of Christ, aware of ourselves, aware of others, aware that He is the Prince of Peace.

Back to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:9) where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” This is Jesus’ call to us, to you and to me and to our brothers and sisters – any opportunity for anger is an opportunity to make peace, to infuse the peace of Jesus Christ into a relationship and a situation.

What opportunities await us today? 

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