Have you ever noticed that there are some seasons when people seem to share their opinions more prominently? Like pumpkin or apple…candy corn or anything else…Christmas before or after Thanksgiving…or election cycles.
While some of these differences can make us laugh, others can cause tension and division, stirring outrage and separating us about a lot of things:
- Republican or Democrat
- Pro-Vaccine vs. Anti-Vaccine
- The overturning of Roe v. Wade
- Sox or Cubs
We live in such an outraged culture that it has created an entire industry. Did you know that there are such things as “Rage Rooms?” Seriously. There are places where you can rent a room full of breakable objects, put on protective gear, and then smash things by the hour.
When we look at the world around us and see the problems, injustice, brokenness, dysfunction, and evil, it is easy to get outraged or jump to judgment. We have a God-engrained desire for justice—we see things aren’t how they should be, so we fight to bring whatever version of “right” we have in our heads. Did you ever realize our outrage actually doesn’t help restore anything?
Ed Stetzer said, “Behind every expression of outrage in our age is real need, brokenness, and destruction that our message of reconciliation through Jesus is meant to address. The age of outrage may be defined by its anger and polarization. Still, beneath these self-defense mechanisms are real and valid underlying questions as people try to understand their origin, identity, purpose, and path in life.”
Jesus calls us to join Him in restoring what is broken. We’re called on a rescue mission; we can’t disengage from the world around us, but we must learn how to shift from outrage to the redemptive work of restoration.
The Bible includes story after story of people who shifted their mindset to redemption:
The Old Testament story about Jonah is about more than a guy who had an epic time-out in the belly of a whale. It’s about a man who knew God but hated the culture around him. As a prophet, Jonah was God’s mouthpiece. He knew God and His heart; his responsibility was to voice God’s thoughts to people.
God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to tell the people to turn away from their wickedness and return to God. The Ninevites were a violent, offensive group known for murder, robbery, and debauchery. Jonah was furious that God would ask him to go there.
But God asks Jonah: “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4 NIV)
When you read the whole story, you discover Jonah was so enraged by the Ninevites that he would rather die than offer them God’s compassion and mercy. Have you ever felt that way?
Many of us can think of a person or a group of people that if God told us, “I want you to love them, serve them, live among them, offer mercy and compassion,” we might choose Jonah’s path in the whale.
It’s important to remember every single human is made in the image of God—including those who don’t look, act, think, believe, or sound like you. Their life is just as valuable in God’s eyes. Who is it in your life that you’ve forgotten is made in the image of God for the purpose of knowing Him?
Jonah’s story ends as a tragedy, with Jonah sitting outside of Nineveh, bitter that they turned to God instead of rejoicing in their restoration. Jonah missed out on the joy of embracing God’s heart for reconciliation and restoration.
In the New Testament, we see another person who was outraged by culture. Paul (formerly Saul) was a pharisee who hated Christians and despised non-Jews (gentiles). Like Jonah, Paul knew all about God. He knew the correct answers and knew the right people. Still, he also held incredible prejudice against people different from him.