jesus, politics, justice, mission & life


when fear turns in to anger

There was a beheading in Oklahoma today. My initial reaction is just shock. It is crazy that crime and hatred like this can happen so close to home. Inevitably, people I know will be affected by this and it’s impact will reach far beyond the food processing plant the event occurred at.

In the proceeding hours since the horrific event, responses on social media have been quick to jump to (often incorrect) conclusions and over the top statements. Over the next 48 hours, this event will turn in to a political one where one side will use this event to back up their worldview (Muslims are dangerous, the Quran teaches to kill Christians, etc) and the other side will work to spin the story a different way (this event is completely unrelated, etc). But both narratives are incomplete and lacking.

Above all,  our first response should be to mourn with those who mourn. I hope the community around the Hufford family can show God’s comfort and peace to them. However, the problem with the politicizing and attacking responses mentioned above is that it comes from fear. When an event this evil happens, facts are often ignored, faith is rattled and people cling to make sense of the event. Statements like “All Muslims are dangerous!” “They want to kill Christians” and calls to load up on ammo and to fight back stem from hatred towards others. But I think if we trace that feeling of hatred back, what we find is anger, and even deeper – fear.

The second reaction is off because it is a reaction to that fear, anger or hatred.

Fear is like a seed. When you allow fear to be deposited in your heart, it spreads it’s wings and becomes anger, hatred and arrogance. It does this to protect itself.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

In a situation that has similarities to today’s event, in John 13, Jesus is in this situation where he is telling his disciples, his closest friends, that their Savior and the person they gave up their life for is about to be killed. When you think about everything that means to them, they had to be freaking out. The thing they had given their lives up to follow was about to be crucified. This wasn’t part of the plan! He was supposed to save them and become a ruler! I’m sure they were concerned about their friend Jesus, but at some level, they had to be thinking “I gave up my live for this guy. I’ve made a fool of myself. If he dies, I could be right behind him.”

Later in John 13, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him. In Mark 14, after Jesus is arrested, Peter angrily calls down curses on himself and goes on to deny his Lord three times. Peter’s fear leads to anger.

But then Jesus does something awesome. He says “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). He tells them to find peace. He does this because he knows that if fear sifts in to his disciples, it opens the door for anger and hatred. He goes on in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Like most of my posts, this leads to the question of what is our response? If we let fear control our response, we will react with hatred towards those we don’t understand and direct our anger in the wrong place. If we let peace control our response, knowing that we are part of the Kingdom of God, we respond in love and a righteous anger when injustice occurs.


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