It’s inevitable. We look around and see so much hurt and injustice in our world, and some days, it’s just too much for one person to bear.
We are not Jesus. We are not holy enough or compassionate enough or loving enough to carry the burdens of the world as he did.
We try, and some days we love and forgive pretty well, but there is just so much pain and suffering that we can’t do it for long.
So we look for relief, which often comes in the form of anger projected at the injustices we see.
And we look for someone or something to blame for these injustices.
In the book “Power vs. Force” by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., the author says that in terms of emotional energy, anger has a higher energy pattern than grief, guilt or fear.
It is the frustrated desire for goodness, health, peace, prosperity or justice in our world that leads to righteous anger.
“It (anger) has more power to change and to keep us going than emotions such as grief and shame. Anger can lead to either constructive or destructive action. Fury over social injustice, victimization and inequality has created great movements that led to major changes in the structure of society. But anger expresses itself most often as resentment and revenge, and is therefore volatile and dangerous. Anger as a lifestyle is exemplified as irritable, explosive people who are oversensitive to slights and become ‘injustice collectors.’ Anger leads easily to hatred, which has an erosive effect on all areas of a person’s life.”
And I would add, all areas of society. As we observe in our nation and our world right now, this anger-turned-to-hatred is being projected outward and is having an erosive effect on each on of us and our nation.
It is so easy to see the log in the eye of another person with an opposing viewpoint or those who align themselves with a differing political party or identified group.
But what we don’t see is that the speck in our own eye is just as damaging and divisive as the log in the other person’s eye, and ultimately, counterproductive to all that we are striving for.
Division is division, no matter which side you choose to stand on when you draw the line that separates you from another. And of course, we all feel we have chosen the “correct” side.
As Abraham Lincoln so prophetically stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
As long as we are unable to love our enemies as Jesus taught us, we will remain divided.
Loving our enemy does not mean we agree with or approve of his or her actions.
It means we are willing to love Jesus more than ourselves, our opinions and our convictions and to trust that He holds every one of us, broken and hurting, together in His loving hands.
I have a little practice that I was led to many years ago. When I am angry at someone, I know that this is a calling from the Holy Spirit to pay attention and to act in a loving way.
But, honestly, when I’m angry or offended, I just can’t muster enough love or compassion to pray for good for that person.
So I ask Jesus to fill in the gap for me. I hold my hands together and place that person in them and lift them up to Jesus.
Sometimes I say, “Jesus, I can’t love them right now, but I know you do.”
This tiny act of obedience to love my enemy is met and completed by the grace of God. So I invite you to give it a try.
Think of that person, or political figure or group or corporation or whatever that you feel such anger toward and take a deep breath. Hold them up to Jesus. Ask Him to do what you cannot. Ask him to fill in the gap. I promise it will change you.
And just maybe it will change the world.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 27-31 NIV)
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3 ESV)