"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."
Ephesians 4:31 NIV
This passage struck me differently this morning, from the way I've always read it.
I mean, it's clear from the context that the Apostle Paul is writing to a church community, and that bitterness, rage, anger and malice (!) have no place among a people devoted to one another in the love of God, shown us in Christ
That doesn't mean it doesn't happen; it does mean it has to be faced, confessed, repented of. It does mean a new way of being together must be found...and CAN be found by the power of the Holy Spirit among us. And i've seen it happen!
But it struck me this morning that this verse has something to say about Outrage Culture.
The world around us is gleefully taking sides and franky, I have, too: on a lot of things, i do think there is one choice that is much "righter" than others. (I'd be glad to tell you all about it, too....)
But it's been sneaking up on me that I have to admit our culture is currently stoking outrage, and its accompanying anger, rage, bitterness and even malice.
Which is a self-sustaining loop. The contempt of of others for me, draws up an equal and even bigger contempt from me. And 'round it goes.
Now, I'm not going to say that we should all embrace all points of view and call that peace...Jesus didn't.
But I do think it is necessary to at least examine and interrogate the outrage, and analyze whether I am addicted to it. Am I seeking it, because of the brain chemicals it stirs up, because I like the arousal I feel, and am gratified by my sense of superiority that it engenders?
Because i think that is what we are being sold. And I hate to admit it.
So Paul writes, get rid of it! Not the commitment to what matters. Not necessarily being deeply troubled by injustice and cruelty.
But do get rid of the habits of allowing outrage to be stoked all day long...because we must not become addicted to bitterness, rage, slander, malice. Those are the works of the devil, not Christ! We become enslaved again.
How to do that? Well, we only kill off bad habits by replacing them with good ones. More scripture. More prayer. More worship. More music that lifts up Jesus! More music, in general. More other engagements of my mind and body.
Pointing myself, intentionally, in a new direction.
Pray for me. I will pray for you!