Thus ends my roughly year-long blogging sabbatical, in which I refrained from sharing my thoughts on the COVID world because they’d be merely one drop in an already deafening ocean. Others have covered it nicely.
(In case you’re wondering, I did contract COVID-19 this year – around Halloween – but my symptoms were thankfully mild. The six-week loss of taste and smell were disconcerting, but given the tragedy others have undergone, I will merely grieve with them.)
So…it is good to see you again.
I find myself barging clumsily back onto the scene again because today has the potential to be a definitive day, one that could solidify a lot of people’s fears and frustrations – on either side. I’m referring, of course, to the Georgia Senate elections. Many have been waiting on that particular delayed race to decide the shape of this interminable election season.
There are two emotions that serve as one’s frequent, almost constant companions in political dialogue: fear and anger. There’s a reason politics has a prominent place on the list of “things you don’t talk about at guests’ houses”. What raises the hackles on the back of your neck as fast as politics? Though we all hold a morbid fascination for these conversations, we know they get us tweaked. To focus on politics without leaving oneself tense, irritable, and judgmental for the rest of the day is a feat of considerable emotional discipline. (Maybe you can do it, but it should be self-evident by now that not everyone can. Or wants to.)
But is is a necessary feat, because fear and anger are not options for Christians.
“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)
“Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.” (Eph. 4:26-27)
I know there are people in the world that view the Bible as polite advice, or perhaps second-tier emotional guidance not to be taken all that thumpingly. But for those just discovering this blog, I tend to take the Godhead’s words literally whenever the text merits. If God says fear and anger don’t belong in our emotional profile, then that is the way.
If we’re not to fear the worst possible fate – being killed in the body – then nothing else should be feared.
If we’re not to stay angry beyond the temporary righteous anger that is promptly snuffed in grace and forgiveness, then it really is possible to forgive.
Indeed, God seems serious enough about this emotional destination that he has the author of Hebrews point out believers who “accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.” (10:34). It takes immense sanctification to be able to pull that off. It almost seems monk-like.
Or perhaps, what it takes is a view of something else – that better and enduring possession.
See, fear and anger are substitutes for faith.
Fear is the belief that God does not see the future.
Anger is the belief that God does not see the past or present.
I know that sounds harsh. They seem like such natural, innocent emotions. But this is one of those times where God’s perspective seems frustatingly inhuman, yet perfectly holy. “Fear not” is one of the Bible’s most oft-repeated commands, and you need only to look at the world around you to see what sustained anger does. He knows what he’s talking about.
And if any doubt remained, Christ forgave the very centurions who nailed him to the cross.
If that is the reach of his love, and if we are to follow him, the mandate is clear.
The truth is, fear and anger evaporate when we see God as he truly, fully is. When we know his omniscience and omnipresence, when we know his father’s heart and his firm hand, all reason to fear or stay angry fades away. That will be our glorified reality one day.
Alas, we’re not there yet. I am just as capable of anxiety and grouch after a good political roundtable as the next guy.
But we can start to move. We can again take up the cross of keeping our eyes inwards, watching our feelings, surrendering them to Christ with every passing minute, taking them captive for his sake. We, as God’s people, should not resemble an ocean in turmoil, but a glassy sea.
There is no time like today to start.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!