Keep calm and pray on
The American people are angry! I can’t remember ever seeing such widespread, fierce hostility.
Those who attended the Million Woman March in Washington, D.C in January were furious that Donald Trump won the election, which they considered an affront to their dignity and a future threat to abortion on demand.
It’s not just feminists who were angry about recent events. Politicians, actors and public figures vented their outrage over the president’s ill-fated 90-day immigration ban. Protestors on college campuses and in major cities reacted by blocking traffic, screaming profanities, destroying property, and throwing rocks and bottles at police.
President Donald Trump was angry too. He couldn’t believe the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his executive order. After the ruling, he indignantly tweeted disparaging remarks about the judges who ruled against him and vowed to get even.
It was disappointing to learn that evangelical leaders were also deeply divided. Well-known church leaders like Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffries and Jerry Falwell Jr. were vehement in their support of the president.
On the other hand, respected torchbearers like Max Lucado, Tim Keller and Bill Hybels took a strong stand against the immigration ban. With Trump recently issuing a modified order, the controversy is likely to continue.
Reacting to outrage
In light of the outrage that’s sweeping our nation, we (especially pastors and church leaders) would do well to remember several biblical principles.
1. Those who lose their tempers lose influence.
Solomon wrote, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11).
Some wrongly conclude that those who get the maddest, shout the loudest, and protest with the most violence win. They imagine a loss of temper is a demonstration of strength, when actually it’s a sign of weakness and evidence of a lack of self-control.
2. Those who seek revenge eventually hurt themselves.
Did you read about the farmer in Bristol, Virginia who was angry about the DMV’s excessive taxes and red tape, and a lack of personal attention?
So, in early January he got even by paying a $3,000 tax assessment with 300,000 pennies. By the time he bought four wheelbarrows and hired people to help, it cost him more than $1,000!
When you get angry, you lose perspective, exaggerate the offense, lose credibility and minimize opportunities to make peace. When you seek revenge, you wind up paying the most.
3. Wisdom doesn’t fight when a fight isn’t necessary.
Sometimes we need to defend the gospel or to oppose those who exploit the oppressed.
However, there are a number of complex issues where people get all lathered up when it may be best to remain neutral. First Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love is not easily angered.”
Immigration policies are not clearly defined. On the one hand, Christians have an obligation to help the poor and to be kind to the alien. On the other hand, the government has an obligation to protect the nation against those who would do us harm.
Perhaps government officials have access to information we don’t have. Romans 13:1-6 says to be obedient to the law and respect those in authority. If the issues aren’t crystal clear, we are wise to be patient and avoid conflict.
4. Pray hard and trust God to work things out in the end.
Of all the candidates who ran for President, Donald Trump was my next-to-last choice. I am not a fan. While I’m tempted to ridicule him, Scripture commands me to pray for those in authority and honor the king.
Psalm 2:1 says, “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?” (KJV). The passage goes on to explain that the people’s anger was really rooted in their opposition to the Lord and His Anointed One. People in rebellion against God are vexed by His restraints.
No matter how much the heathen rage, no matter how much Christians disagree with one another, and no matter how chaotic the world seems, the Bible assures us that God is still in control. Ultimately, His will is going to be accomplished. That is true, regardless of who is president of the U.S. or what ayatollah rules in Iran.
These are troubling times, but remember God is still on His throne. In the end, He will establish His eternal kingdom of tranquility and peace.
At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members became one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend in 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches & conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups.www