Acts 17:24-31 He is the God who made the world and everything in it … He has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything … His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. … God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice …
Thanks to my Be the Bridge group, I’ve just read a funny, counter-cultural book called Unoffendable, by Brant Hansen. His thesis is that Christians should be the most refreshingly unoffendable people on the planet. He says the idea of “righteous anger” is unbiblical:
“We should forfeit our right to be offended. That means forfeiting our right to hold on to anger. When we do this, we’ll be making a sacrifice that’s very pleasing to God. … Actually, it’s not even ‘forfeiting’ a right, because the right doesn’t exist. We’re told to forgive, and that means anger has to go, whether we’ve decided our own anger is ‘righteous’ or not.”
Reading this, my first response is, There’s no way we can achieve this without mega help from God.
Hansen next says, “I sense a lot of people think this idea is stupid, and they don’t agree with me on this. And I sense this because lots of people say, ‘That idea is stupid, and I don’t agree with you on this.’ I’ve got antennae for subtlety like that. I pick up on things.” (Haha.)
Hansen says God can judge, because he is very different from us—he’s perfect. His character allows this. Ours doesn’t (1 Cor. 4:3-5). We don’t know the backstory. He does.
When I worked with sexual abuse recovery groups in Brazil, I thanked God constantly that he is the Judge and not us. Since vengeance belongs to him, as we express our profound pain to him, we can let go our intense desire to see justice done on our own terms.
Unoffendable challenges me, and I’m not sure I’m ready to swallow the whole thing yet. But here are a few more Hansen quotes:
“Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle … We can recognize injustice, grieve it, and act against it—but without rage, without malice, and without anger. We have enough motivation, I hope, to defend the defenseless and protect the vulnerable, without needing anger … Life has become so much better this way” (p. 7-8).
“Gratitude and anger can’t coexist. It’s one or the other. One drains the life from you. The other fills your life with wonder. Choose wisely” (p. 44).
“We have nothing to prove, and when we really believe that, we’ll hardly be quick to anger. When we do get angry, we’ll rid ourselves of the anger more easily. Remember: Anger and rest are always at odds. You can’t have both at once” (p. 59).
“Whenever there’s an injury to a relationship, a hurt, a broken heart, or even a broken thing, and you are willing to forgive, you are saying, ‘I got this. I’m going to pick up the bill for this.’ This is, of course, precisely what God has done for us. … Since anger has value to us, giving it up requires a sacrifice, one that’s simply not optional for the follower of Jesus … (p. 141-142).
“[Jesus offers] a completely different way to live, and it’s one that sets us free from anger, free from guilt, free to really love people, free from constant anxiety, and free to get a good night’s sleep” (p. 143).
“When we’re at our best, you can kick and punch, sure, but you can’t offend us. … We can’t be agents of healing in people’s lives unless we’re ready to bear their wounds for them and from them. Jesus did precisely this for us. … Real ministry forces us to abandon our relentless search for approval from others. That frees us to love beautifully and recklessly” (p. 149-150).
“It’s always grace that changes hearts. Rules don’t, ever. Grace does” (p. 166-167).
“Your ‘righteousness’ isn’t the issue. His is. Final answer. We want it to be about us. But it’s not. Use your guilt to drive you back to Jesus … and then drop it” (p. 181).
“We’re human, so we’re going to occasionally feel threatened. It happens. Anger happens too. So do jealousy and bitterness and resentment. But [in God’s kingdom] things will be set right in the end” (p. 198).