Last week, here in Alberta where I live, a new round of COVID restrictions was announced by government. These included all K-12 students learning from home until May 25th, businesses being reduced to 10% capacity and places of worship being restricted to 15 people. These are some of the tightest restrictions we’ve had here since last March and the initial pandemic restrictions.
Listening to all of the restrictions, I realized that I’m not really all that impacted. Sure, we’ll be watching church online in the living room again for awhile, but other than that, this doesn’t change my life a lot. I don’t have kids in school, so I’m not trying to help the learn at the kitchen table while also working. Our business doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic, so Terry is able to continue on with his work, which thankfully is busier than ever. I don’t have kids playing sports, I don’t generally go a lot of other places, so really, my life is not dramatically changed by this.
However, I was mad. Irrationally angry. Listening to the list of restrictions, I felt my jaw clench and became immediately defensive.
A quick wander across social media quickly told me I was not alone in my anger.
Now, this post is not about my stand on COVID-19 or government restrictions or masks or vaccines. In fact, I’m not going to talk about that at all. I want to talk about this deep-seated anger that seems to be permeating across most of society, regardless of which “side” people land on.
Over the last weeks and months, my social media has been filled with posts on the pandemic and the issues associated with it. However, what started out as support groups and people supporting one another last March has turned into name-calling and accusations. I have seen posts and comments from people I know, people I worship with, people I call friends, speaking in a tone and manner that is actually shocking to me. The vitriol and hatred being spewed across social media at other people is beyond disappointing.
Particularly from within those who would identify as Christ-followers.
People of God, it is time to smarten up. We have such an opportunity to love our communities, to show care and compassion to those around us, yet we’re spending air time arguing with each other. Yelling and calling names. Things that we would likely call our kids out for, yet it’s the grown-ups who are doing it.
I understand that you’re angry and disappointed and frustrated – we all are. The entire globe is on edge – we’re all a little extra testy these days. But that does not give a green light to take that anger out on others.
I was listening to an interview with A.J. Swoboda today, and he said something that caught my attention. In a conversation about the role of the imprecatory psalms within the church, Swoboda said, “If I don’t take my anger to God, I’m going to take it to Twitter.”
That made me stop and think. Am I taking my anger to God? I mean, I tell Him what I’m thankful for. I ask Him questions when I don’t understand. I’m really good at bringing my requests to God. But do I bring Him my anger? Do I take this irrational rage I’m feeling inside and lay that out before God? I don’t know that I do – I mean, being angry during a conversation with God just seems a little, I don’t know – not right, somehow.
Except it is ok. Just like when my kids are mad about something, I’d much rather they come and let off steam with me and work through it than go yell at someone else. When we go to God with our rage and then listen to what He has to say, we can work through it, rather than going and yelling at someone else. He’s a big God – He can take it.
Friends, can we be known for our grace instead of our anger? In John 13:35, Jesus told us, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” That’s it. That’s how the world will know that we love and follow Jesus. Not by how well we argue or how many articles we link to or how many people we try to correct.
We show Jesus when we show grace and kindness to those around us, including those who have a different opinion than us. When we love one another. That’s it. Love one another.
Imagine if that is what the church was known for – loving each other and their community well. Imagine the impact we could have on the world around us. The world that is hurting and desperate for love – the love of God that we have!
Let’s share that instead of sharing our anger with each other. The world is watching how we’re treating each other – let’s show them something they will want to be a part of.