Anger. Bitterness. Frustration. The hallmarks of humanity. I mention those because of what I want to discuss in this Installment.
During the last few years, I have had more than one person accuse me of following darkness and not light. They candidly, forthrightly, and unswervingly have accused me of allowing the adversary into my life. To the point, that some of them believe that the adversary has more power to influence than the Divine.
If we as believers are going to believe the Scriptures, then we have to believe something in particular, the adversary is the father of lies and in the adversary resides no truth, for the adversary is a thief only wanting to steal, kill, and destroy.
That means that the adversary is not, for the adversary cannot, lead anyone into righteousness for the sake of God’s name. End of story.
Without doubt, following the leading of the Divine poses a challenge to those around you, such reaction is found throughout the Scriptures.
Yet, humanity seems to confuse the leading of the opposing forces, confusing light for darkness, and confusing darkness for light.
As Jesus said, you can know people by their fruit, the things that they do in their lives.
It’s not difficult. When the leading is from below, a person’s life is not filled with the fruits of the spirit. When the leading is from above, a person’s life is filled with the fruits of the spirit. Take for example, a portion of my prayer from November 7, 2015 (Month 8 Day 24).
I began my prayer asking a question: Blessing? The Divine responded:
It is not that that establishes that the Divine is leading me, it is what follows. Consider how the prayer unfolded. The Divine continued:
Now that you are here, listen to this.
Meaning now that I was in the prayer, there was something that I needed to shema, something that I needed to pay attention to, to really let sink in, in order to understand, in order to apply. The Divine continued:
My son your anger,
Before I continue the remainder of the prayer, allow me to spend some time here on this issue of anger.
First, from a youth, I was taught that righteous indignation, righteous anger, was well, righteous. Unfortunately, few teachers espousing the holiness of righteous anger ever provided a balance to that teaching. The balance is establishing the events when righteous anger is permitted.
But you see, the problem with righteous anger is that the judgment of what is righteous and what is worth standing against in the avenue of anger is almost completely subjective. Here’s what I mean.
I am not getting into a debate, I am just making references. Some (many?) people believe it is righteous to be angry because abortion is permitted. Why? Because that is viewed as a large problem, a transgression of humanity.
Yet, many of those people will not become righteously angry when someone’s character is defaced, mutilated, and/or -can I say it this way?- murdered.
The difference between the two? The individual person’s measurements of the weight of the transgression.
The point is that murder of a person’s character in many instances is a murder of the person themselves. For there is more to a person than simply their flesh and blood.
There is much to be righteously angry about. Lying, cheating, stealing and murder occurs everyday, everywhere, by many people, affecting the whole of humanity.
Why? We live in a broken world.
The older I get, the more acute the world’s brokenness has become. And that brokenness is found from the white lie to murder, from lying about one’s self to lying about others.
The world truly is a dark place, but I think what the Divine conveys in this prayer was amazingly helpful for me regarding interaction with anger.
I back up, to requote the beginning of the Divine’s part in the prayer:
My son your anger,
Then the Divine continued:
while not uncontrolled, is disturbing, here is how.
From a personal standpoint, I’ll tell you what’s disturbing, the amount of people who are callous and unconcerned about their fellow human. The callousness hates it when others abuse them, but they in turn, with consciousness or concern, abuse others.
For me, that is what is disturbing. But the Divine is rebuking me, chastising me, in other words disciplining me about how I approach issues that anger me.
The Divine found my reaction disturbing, and that is what matters. At least the Divine was willing to explain why. The Divine continued:
You expect goodness, quality, achievement,
Yep. That is exactly correct. That is my expectations. I expect people to be good. I expect people to want the quality of righteousness. I expect people to want to achieve righteousness. Anything less keeps the world broken.
Importantly, consider how the Divine continued:
but your anger runs counter productive.
What!? Quite frankly that is not what I was taught.
Yes, Christians are to love their enemy, pray for them, heap coals of kindness on their head, turn the other cheek, and all that.
But as a Christian, I was taught that it was proper to be righteously angry and indignant at the world’s unrighteous behavior, and to address it, stand up against it, all in order to change the world’s behavior, even if the world was one person who stood at my side.
Consider how the Divine continued:
I understand you getting ‘pissed off’
That might not set well for some Christians, but that is what was conveyed. Candidly, when I expressed my righteous anger, it was for that very reason. As I suppose, is the case for some (many?) of my readers.
As believers, we get angry that the world is not following the Divine. We want a better world, a more peaceful world, a more righteous world. Why? Because we see how it is broken. So consider how the Divine continued:
but you need to view this differently.
Wait. What? View the brokenness and unrighteousness of the world differently? This I have to hear. The Divine continued:
Yes, yes there’s ‘miscommunication’ that abounds,
That was addressing a specific moment that occurred near the time of that prayer. That issue was incidental, a peripheral item to the moment. The incidental item could differ for my reader, but as the prayer will address the issue is not the incidentals. The Divine continued:
but that is not the issue,
The incidental of miscommunication in my moment, or the incidental that may occur in my reader’s moment is not the issue, the incidental is not the subject of concern. The Divine continued:
the issue is control, you lack it,
But control is something that we all want. Not necessarily because we want control, but we want the world controlled. Here’s what I mean.
We, as believers, can see and understand what God has defined as righteous. We also see and understand that the world is not following God’s righteousness. The world seems out-of-control, and therefore we assess that the world needs to be controlled.
What is our response? Maybe something similar to what the Divine said about me:
therefore, you grow angry.
Angry because the world, the human world, does not give itself to the righteousness of the Divine. So consider how the Divine continued:
Now, it is not meant that you want control,
Look, I don’t want ‘control’ not over anyone. I’m not the Divine. But I did grow angry that the world did not want the Divine’s guidance, whether that world was inside or outside the church. The Divine continued:
but you can’t stand seeing this uncontrolled, out-of-order, or in chaos,
And that is true. Whether nations or individuals, wars, battles, arguments, disagreements, all occur because the uncontrolled nature of humanity does not want to submit to the controlling nature of the Divine. The Divine continued:
I totally appreciate that perspective,
Well, at least the Divine seemed to understand and have some kind of gratefulness for my view and outlook of life with regard to anger. But what surprised me the most is how the Divine continued:
yet I live with the chaos,
What!? Wait a minute though. That is exactly the case since the fall of man and woman. I mean truly think about that.
The church taught me that there was this oppressive need to ‘right’ the world, to bring order to creation. But that is not what the Divine is conveying here.
Consider myself, I am in my mid-forties. I have lived with the chaos of life, all my life. No matter the age of my reader, the same applies to them.
But the Divine has been living with chaos for how long? At least since the fall of man and woman, no matter how we count that, it has been a long time.
The point? The Divine is not nearly as hurried in the ‘righting’ of the chaos as we have been taught.
The point? Consider how the Divine continued:
for the chaos does not want to be controlled,
And that is exactly true. Simply consider any moment, where you know that where you stand is the absolute correct position, and how the other simply will not allow their chaos to be controlled.
For the importance of the concept, I am going to avoid providing any specific example. Why? Because the concept is clear.
Chaos is not righteous. Because chaos is not righteous, chaos does not want righteousness to control it. So consider how the Divine continued:
if, since, chaos does not want to be controlled, then why expend energy to ‘control’ something that does not want to be controlled?
Notice that the Divine did not negate anger. The Divine permits one to be angry that the situation exists. But the Divine provides a point-of-view for seeing the true nature of the moment.
That permits one to be angry, but it also permits one to have a healthy way of handling the moment, recognizing chaos, and then understanding that chaos does not want righteousness, righteousness being correct, upright, honest, forthright, integrity of character.
Moments and prayers like these are why I know that I am not being led by the adversary. Why? It’s simple. The adversary encourages anger, angry responses, justifying actions that continue destructive behavior.
That was not the first time that the Divine corrected me on my approach to life or corrected me on my behavior.
While it might be difficult to incorporate that correct point-of-view into my life, it is easily seen that the prayer promotes fruits of the spirit because it discourages works of the flesh.
For the reader who still believes that the Divine would not lead a man and a woman and a woman into polygyny -commonly called polygamy- then the reader who believes such has a mistaken point-of-view of what is righteous.
Some will recoil in disgust that I would even make that pronouncement. So be it. Recoil.
The issue, my reader, is that polygyny is not unrighteous, because God never declared it unrighteousness. Go look for it in your Scriptures.
Candidly, the Scriptures identify two or three unrighteous polygyny relationships. One, when a man has a mother and a daughter (Leviticus 18.17a). Two, when a man has a mother and granddaughter (Leviticus 18.17). Three, when a man has sisters (Leviticus 18.18).
While it is common understanding that Jacob had sisters as wives, we can clearly see that God later denounces that type of relationship.
Truth told, Jacob having sisters as his wives truly did bring vexation to each woman, but it is because they were sisters. More truth told, it was Laban, their father, who put that vexation on them (Genesis 29.22-28).
That simply means that when a man has two wives, who are not related, then the Divine did not condemn their relationship. In fact, the Divine never addresses their marital situation.
Some will point to Jesus in Matthew 19 and declare that polygamy is denounced because of his appeal to Genesis. But that is the incorrect interpretation of Jesus, because that is making Jesus say something that he was not saying. Jesus was addressing divorce.
Some will point to Paul and his use of analogies and his use of words, like his use of the word “wife” being in the singular, and such to denounce polygyny. There are only three places that Paul specifically addresses polygyny, and each instance has to do with leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Even though polygyny is prohibited for these leadership positions, polygyny is not prohibited in the church.
Because those things have been misinterpreted for so long, it is quite difficult for Christians to understand the righteousness of marital permissions.
I save my discussions about those particulars for another day, for another venue.
But here is what is known, without doubt, the Divine leads in paths of righteousness, and will lead in no other way.
Blessings and Shalom