One of Those “I Hate the World” Kind of Days

Sharon Love, Perseverance 8 Comments

There’s a bumper sticker floating around–you may have seen it–that reads, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” There are a lot of days when that phrase really resonates with me, and today has been one of those days.

Maybe “outraged” is a little strong. Maybe angry, discouraged, or frustrated are better words. But either way, today I woke up feeling kind of bitter. Perhaps it’s the fact that random people who never read my blog and don’t know anything about me somehow feel justified leaving mean, name-calling comments on my site. Perhaps it is this whole Chick-fil-a thing and how divisive it’s become (Which, by the way, I was not trying to make worse through my own post on the matter. I was trying to promote dialogue, not division or choosing sides, though I’m not sure I succeeded in that goal…). Perhaps it is our overall political climate, since both parties equally infuriate me. Perhaps it is the long list of injustices being perpetuated throughout the world with no end in sight. Or perhaps it was the guy who wouldn’t let me merge in traffic yesterday when my lane was ending.

It could be any of those things, or all of the above. Either way, today I’ve felt icky and bummed, and I hate that feeling. I don’t like feeling angry at the world, and I certainly don’t like the way it shapes my heart. Whenever I start to become cynical, it influences the way I see other people, treat other people, and talk about other people. It leads me to make sweeping dismissals of certain groups, to paint issues in ridiculously black and white terms, and to lash out at whoever crosses me. The fruits of those bitter seeds are not only ugly, but I also suspect they are the source of spiritual decay.

That is not to say that anger is wrong or bad. There are times when a lack of anger certainly reveals apathy toward those things for which God cares deeply. In Scripture, God Himself is shown to be angry at sin and injustice, so our hearts should be in sync with that part of His character. There are times when, if we are not angry, then we’re either not paying attention, or we are disconnected from the very heart of God.

However, I am grateful for the WHOLE picture of God as described in His Word. Without it I might get stuck in that place of cynicism and rage. Scripture, on the other hand, portrays a God who gets angry at injustice, yes, but who equally evidences love, mercy, hope, and redemptive intervention. These qualities hold one another in a perfect tension that keeps my spirit in check.

So this morning, as I woke up wanting to withdraw from the world, deactivate my Facebook and Twitter, stop watching the news, and sit outside in the grass thinking happy thoughts, all the while pretending that there isn’t a laundry list of things that get under my skin, I decided to open my Bible. The first verse that God brought to mind is John 16:33 and it reads,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

There are a lot of ways that one could read/interpret this verse. Overcome could mean “conquer” or “do away with,” for example. But within the context of the Jesus story, “overcoming the world” seems not to mean the defeat of humankind in a Jesus v. humanity sort of way, but instead overcoming the powers of the world, such as sin, death, and destruction. Those wicked things which threaten to have the last word, Christ has overcome them and now the last word is peace.

For Christians, this means that our anger should be tempered with love, yes, but not as a self-generated gesture of good will and empty emotionalism. Love of neighbor is not a sentiment that we stir up in ourselves because of some vague notion that “God is love” and we should be loving too.

In order to love the world and avoid being swallowed up by cynicism, we begin not with sentimentality but with the cross. We remember that Christ has put to death the many ways we sin against one another each day. It is the reason he came, and the reason we have hope. So whenever I read a mean-hearted Facebook status, tweet, or blog comment, I am reminded of why we need Jesus. We are a profoundly broken people who cannot help but hurt one another, and that is why we desperately need Christ.

We cannot jump from anger to love without the bridge that is the gospel. In the death and resurrection of Christ we are witness to a transformative love and we are given a reason to hope for redemption. We are also given a reason to rejoice and be grateful that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

All of that to say, I think there is something to that bumper sticker. Sometimes we fail to be outraged about the wrong things, and that apathy is a spiritual sickness. However, there are times when the absence of outrage is actually a choice. Some of us refuse to dwell in our anger because it is equally unhealthy to do so.

As for me, I will not suppress my anger but I will rightly direct it–or at least I will try to. I will turn my anger toward my own sin and remember my own need for forgiveness. Then, I will let that forgiveness produce gratitude, gratitude produce joy, and joy produce love. Hopefully that love will produce action in the face of injustice, and the right kind of redemptive action. As I seek a path that makes room for holy anger but is not imprisoned by despairing cynicism, that is the path I choose today.


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Comments 8

  1. Tionna

    Awww sweetie I am sending you a hug. I have come to realize someone, somewhere is going to hate you for your opinion or values no matter what. But, I refuse to return the hate because, it simply takes to much energy. I simply do not have time for that! I love how you have made this post so that it is bluntly honest and so true. I have to pray to God almost everyday to help me with my anger. I feel some days I pass the test and other days I go back to the “Tionna” I was in high school. Either way I still strive for Him to help me.

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  3. Julie

    Thank you for this! I was feeling very similarly yesterday as my heart broke over these escalating “culture wars”. We all need the reminder that we shouldn’t be surprised at the brokenness of our world, even when it seems so utterly out of control. John 16:33 is a great encouragement!

  4. Tim

    Sharon, this is such an encouragement to me. I especially appreciate how you note that sometimes anger is appropriate and sometimes not, but the lack of anger should not be due to apathy but due to a godly quality like love and mercy.

    I recently filled the pulpit for a friend on vacation and spoke on God’s justice under the New Covenant and how it is different from that under the Old Covenant. The sermon* went right in line with the verse you mentioned about overcoming the world. I think the overcoming is by not giving in to the world, rather than being in some big fight with it. That’s how Jesus won: he never gave in to the world, but rather by submitting himself over to death he defeated death. After all, in Revelation 5:9 we’re told that the reason Jesus is worthy is because he was slain!

    I know there are those who will criticize harshly, but it’s not a response to the way you write or the substance of your writing. You are consistently straight-forward, constructuve and irenic, and set a good example for me.

    Tim

    *I spoke on Pslam 137: Babylon and weeping and babies and rocks. I’m not sure they’ll ever ask me back!

  5. Jessica

    I absolutely loved your post on Chik-fil-a, yet found myself hesitant to share on Facebook and other sites because I wanted desperately to protect you from the sort of comments you received. All morning long I’ve watched other Christians posting sentiments similar to yours (regarding, especially, giving up social media) and I’ve had my fair share of those feelings myself. This is an incredibly difficult time, but we must take heart! We are not alone in facing these hurtful comments.

    “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)

    When we make statements in love, from the warmest places of our hearts, aided by the Spirit and yet we feel kick-back from the world, it hurts. It’s confusing, and frustrating, and painful. It makes us cynical about the state of the world and the war we’re waging against sin. It also makes me angry, and I often feel as if I need to fight back against the individuals making the hurtful statements in order to defend God.

    That thought is somewhat absurd. But it happens every time.

    Our God is great, and he is strong enough to face the hateful sentiments of the world — he has been doing it since man’s creation. I have to remember always that he does not need us to defend him; instead, he reminds us to put on Christ as our armor. He reminds us to turn to him as our fortress and our strength and our protection. And he has shown us how he fights back, with perfect love.

    Luckily, we can lean on his strength during this time as we also share in his sorrow. We can feel his holy anger at sin itself, while still remembering to love the sinner. We can do all of these things because God IS, and he is good, and he is with us.

    We’re with you too, Sharon. You are not alone.

  6. Melissa

    Thanks for staying connected. It has been a difficult season for many of us, and I’m sure you have felt that.

    I am in the midst of leaving my church, because they decided yesterday to take a “stance against the culture” and exclude women from leadership, and make very clear that they will not put up with egalitarian nonsense any longer. Something about chicken and the internet and fighting against.

    My heart is broken. But I am glad that there is a community here, and on a few other ladies’ blogs that I’ve recently discovered, for me to find encouragement in my faith in Christ, and know that I don’t have to leave Him, just this toxic environment. I am grieving right now, but your blog and others’ gives me hope.

    Thanks for writing.

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