“The Godliness of Righteous Anger”
Scripture: Matthew 21:12-13
Justice is not a liberal, social or political word. It is a biblical word because justice is an attribute of God that his image bearers are responsible to practice. The murder of George Floyd comes on the heels of many other incidents of injustice such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Now more than ever, the Church of Jesus Christ as well as followers of Christ must respond. The easiest way is to simply ignore the issues, mind our own business and continue to work hard. But the way of the cross requires dying to ourselves. It requires being righteously angry at the injustices taking place in God’s world. This kind of anger is cruciform because anger that faces injustice is draining, frustrating and wearies the soul. But it is the kind of anger God himself adorns. This means righteous anger at injustice is good and godly for the Christian.
Jesus displayed this kind of anger when he entered the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove out those selling animals for sacrifice. But it was righteous anger because he was responding to the injustices committed in the temple. This business commerce was taking place in the court of the Gentiles giving them no room to properly worship and pray. God’s vision was that the temple would be a house of prayer for all peoples but the Gentiles were being denied the right to do that. Also the money changers and the sellers were exploiting those who traveled to worship at the temple by raising prices. Thus Jesus calls them robbers. They particularly targeted the poor who purchased pigeons to sacrifice, an Old Testament provision made specifically for those who could not afford sheep or oxen. Jesus’ anger was directed at these injustices.
As Christians we are called to imitate Christ and follow his ways. This means our desire for justice and our disgust over injustice is not a social issue but a sanctification issue. To look more like Christ means we get righteously angry at the injustices around us, particularly the racial injustice in our country. What will transform us to be these kinds of people? The gospel. Jesus’ confrontation in the temple foreshadowed his work on the cross. Whereas in the temple Jesus upheld the justice of God while condemning the injustice of sinful men, on the cross Jesus upheld the justice of God while being condemned for the injustice of sinful men. More specifically Jesus was condemned in our place by the justice of God so that we could receive forgiveness and mercy.
This gospel changes us in two ways. First, it’ll give us a desire to condemn injustice. The death of Christ shows us how much God hates injustice and the lengths he went to eradicate it. So we begin to condemn injustice in all of its shapes and forms. Second, it’ll give us a desire to contend for justice. The death of Christ shows us how much God loves justice and the lengths he’ll went to uphold it. So we begin to contend for justice wherever and however it is called for. Gospel-centered Christians then become the strongest and most courageous advocates for justice in society. We realize that being righteously angry at injustice is not something to suppress or smother as it leads us to right actions that conform to God’s desire for justice. We must believe that when it comes to injustice, an apathetic response is a pathetic response.
Here are eight things justice loving Christians can do. 1) Repent of what you see in yourself. 2) Lament over what you see around you. 3) Listen and learn from the voices and experiences of others. 4) Speak up for justice and speak out against injustice because everybody is made in God’s image. 5) Model for the world what it means to follow Jesus because we are made in the image of a justice loving God. 6) Teach our children it is heroic and strong to stand up for justice and cowardly and weak to dismiss injustice 7) pray for God’s reconciling work through Christ to bring peace to the world. 8) Long for the day when God will right every wrong and justice rolls down like waters (Amos 5:24).
Group Discussion Questions
- Share with one another how all of this makes you feel (the recent events, the history of events, the responses of people). How do you tend to respond? Be honest.
- What have you learned through conversations or other mediums that has helped you process the issue of racism and racial injustice, particularly in America? What has been eye-opening? What are some of the questions you are still wrestling with?
- How does a bible-believing, Jesus-following, gospel-centered Christian understand, interpret, react and respond differently than any other person who is also aware and concerned about racism and racial injustice? Or is there not/should there not be a difference?
- Which of the eight suggested things do you need to work on most? Can you unpack and elaborate on it?
- Make a list of things the community group should pray for and lament over. Then pray and lament over those things.