Last week I was asked to fill in and teach for a friend of mine in his Christian Theology class. I was asked to lead a discussion on chapter 5 and 6 of Dallas Willard's book "The Divine Conspiracy." I had thought that I read it in college so I figured I would spend 1 or 2 hours brushing up.
What I realized was that I stopped reading the book at chapter 4! So I started cramming and speed reading so that I would be able to bring something valuable to the class.
What I wasn't expecting was how impacting the reading would be to me. I remembered why I put the book down years ago, it is very deep and takes time to process, (I had a lot of NCAA football to play in college) but I also was reminded of the brilliance of Dallas Willard. After teaching the class I went back and had to re-read the section on anger.
Anger/frustration has been something that I have struggled with throughout my life. But as I read each page, I felt like God was simultaneously convicting and freeing me. I wanted to share with you a few of the quotes that stopped me in my tracks.
"When we trace wrongdoing back to its roots in the human heart, we find that in the overwhelming number of cases it involves some form of anger...It is the elimination of anger and contempt that he presents as the FIRST and fundamental step toward the rightness of the kingdom heart."
I have never thought of anger as the first and fundamental step toward God's kingdom. It was just kind of something that happens to you, you get angry. Maybe angers hold in my life is what is keeping me from many other breakthroughs?
"Anger first arises spontaneously. But we can actively receive it and decide to indulge it, and we usually do. We may even become an angry person, and any incident can evoke from us a torrent of rage that is kept in constant readiness...Explosions of anger never simply comes from the incident. Most people carry a supply of anger around with them."
How painful and dangerous that sounds to carry a supply of anger around with you. Like a ticking time bomb that you don't know when will be set off. He goes on to cite the deadly effects on our own health and happiness but also the "secondhand effects" that others are harmed and even killed by.
I feel like we live in an angry culture. It seems like people are looking for a reason to be angry. Many of the people in the customer service industry just seem mad they have to assist you! Take a look at social media, the news, or the violence that fills our TV's...anger is all around us.
What if Willard is right? That the elimination of anger and contempt is the first fundamental step toward rightness in the kingdom heart. If this is true, America has a long way to go when it comes to Kingdom life.
I pray that our churches and communities become safe havens from anger. I pray that our conversations, tweets, status updates and actions are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
While anger may feel good in the moment, I'm learning more and more that it's just not worth it.
"Anything that can be done with anger can be done better without it. -Dallas Willard"