The Age Of Rage

The Age Of Rage

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

For the last few years, it has become vogue to refer to the current state of incivility as “the age of rage.” The British newspaper, The Guardian, featured an article in 2019 by Oliver Burkeman, entitled, “The age of rage: are we really living in angrier times?” Janie Watkins wrote the book, “The Age of Rage”: This is a mad, mad world, in 2005. While it’s written in the context of America, it points back to examples like Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab, and other Bible characters, alongside modern dictators and megalomaniacs. At least one source, Science Focus, wisely observes, “The Age Of Rage: Why Social Media Makes Us So Angry…And What You Can Do About It” (3/20). Writers in Australia, Ireland, and other countries are all observing the same disturbing trend of people who disagree being willing to amplify their indignation with intimidation and violence. Outrage has simply become rage.

Any number of current events in the last few years would serve to prove that we’ve gone that far in our society. Civilization depends on civility. More than that, Christianity, as Jesus and His disciples teach it in the New Testament, requires us to “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” as He sends us out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mat. 10:16). You see, it doesn’t matter how the world acts. God expects us to assuage the rage.

The Bible identifies what qualifies as rage. The main word translated “rage” in modern translations is thumos, and it is found eighteen times in the New Testament. The NASB renders it “rage” (Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28), “indignation” (Rom. 2:8), “angry tempers” (2 Cor. 12:20), “outbursts of anger” (Gal. 5:20), “wrath” (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Heb. 11:27; etc.), and “passion” (Rev. 14:8; 18:3). This word means the “intense expression of the inner self; a state of intense displeasure” (BDAG 461). Louw-Nida says, “an intense, passionate desire of an overwhelming and possibly destructive character” (290). Kittel explains that the verb from which this noun comes originally conveyed “violent movement” and “to boil up” and “smoke” and the noun came to mean what is moved–desire, impulse, disposition, thought, and anger (TDNTA 339). Picture a person’s temperament as a potentially seething volcano. Rather than controlling it, the person allows what’s inside to freely boil over. That is rage!

With intensifying rhetoric from those in the world who threaten harm in expressing their rage, what does God call you and me to do? First, at the basic level, we are not to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26). Second, never take your own revenge (Rom. 12:19). Third, replace quarrelsomeness with kindness, patience (even when wronged), and gentleness (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Fourth, malign no one, but be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Titus 3:2).

Warning: This is not how the world thinks nor what the world will do, in many cases. But in the age of rage, we have a higher law. Simply put, it is, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). It’s not a matter of what that may or may not do for our personal causes, but what will it do to advance the cause of Christ. It’s why He has us in this age, to help the world see His way. Those who follow it will experience eternal joy, the antithesis and antidote to this age of rage!

“Calm Thyself”

“Calm Thyself”

 

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

It’s a jungle out there, so here’s some friendly reminders:

  1. We’re here for a short time, not a long time (James 4.14).
  2. God ultimately controls the outcome of November 3rd (Romans 13.1).
  3. This earth is fallen anyway and we’re looking forward to something way better (II Peter 3.10).
  4. We have more pressing matters to attend to (Ephesians 2.10; 4.11; Matthew 28.18ff).
  5. We’re ambassadors, not crusaders (II Corinthians 5.11ff).
  6. Mercy always trumps a condemning attitude (James 2.11ff). Contextually, this is about not showing favoritism based on appearance or status. A broader application concerning our attitude toward others in general is appropriate.
  7. Our attitudes may well be what condemns or saves a lost soul (Philippians in general, but specifically 2.5-11).
  8. Don’t be rude to people, but especially not to those in our spiritual family (Galatians 6).
  9. What we do about our beliefs speaks far more powerfully than what we say about our beliefs, and that can be amazing or especially harmful (James 2.18).
  10. Revelation 22.20!
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SARCASTIC, STORMY SQUABBLES AMONG THE SAINTS

SARCASTIC, STORMY SQUABBLES AMONG THE SAINTS

Neal Pollard

(Imagine The Following 1st-Century Social Media Thread)

“Apostles And Disciples On Facebook”

James of Jerusalem: I believe the gospel should only go to the Jews. Or at least we should circumcise Gentiles who want to become Christians.
Simon Peter: Poor James.  I used to think that way, too.  But I know better.  You should check with Cornelius and his people.
James of Jerusalem: Where did you get your education?  The Samaritans?! LOL
Paul, the Tarsus Teacher: James, James, James.  I used to be right where you were.  I even had to set ole Petey straight because of you troublemakers.  You just keep turning up like a bad denarii.
Apollos: Apparently, the pedagogical philosophy of the Jerusalem saints is as circumscribed as the Strait of Sicily.  My buddy Paul always cuts straight to the point.  What do you have to say for yourself, J.J.?
Barnabas: Guys, let’s not make this personal.  Let’s deal with the issue. OK?
Simon Peter: Barnabas, did somebody steal your man card? Ha ha!  Jimmy, are you going to answer Paul’s powerful point?  Or will you crawl back into your cave?
Apollos: Well… James?
Simon Peter: Apollos and Paul, that’s just the way “brother” James is.  Hit and run. SMH!

OK. So, the apostles and disciples did not have social media in the first-century.  But if they did, is the sample above how we would imagine them discussing the issues between them?  Church leaders did meet to discuss a matter similar to the imaginary scenario just depicted.  It is recorded in Acts 15. There was sharp dispute and debate with them (3). There was much discussion (7).  Imagine what you’d like about what was said and how it was said, but look at what the Holy Spirit preserved. There was lots of Scripture quoted.  Love and civility carried the day.  Even in Galatians two, when there were issues of actual prejudice, they handled the matter head on.  But there was no vilifying, name-calling, or slanderous libeling of brethren.

How is it that some among us have lost the ability to discuss passionately without attacking personally?  Especially if our intent is to be a part of restoring first-century Christianity, why would we think we could exempt ourselves from the spirit and attitude faithful brethren exhibited as they sought to work together for the cause of Christ? This is baffling!

Certainly, we live in tumultuous times. Truth has been redefined and the church is being pressed by some enormous, identity-changing issues (i.e., same-sex marriage, an expanded women’s role in teaching and church leadership, the contention that the idea of non-denominational Christianity or the singular nature of the church is arrogant and false, etc.).  There are a great many other matters that merit discussion, but no matter what we are addressing we cannot—especially before the eyes of the world—fail to exhibit the love Jesus commanded His disciples show.  “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).