This sermon leans heavily on a paper of the same name written by Dr. Jeff Gibbs. I encourage you to read it.
1 Peter 2:21-25
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
It seems like everyone is angry. We shout at each other over social media. We read it in our newspapers. You probably feel it. Our American social and political life is filled with anger. Sometimes we think about anger as a virtue. Aren’t we supposed to be outraged when we see evil? Aren’t we supposed to be angry when there’s injustice? Christians sometimes appeal to “righteous anger” to justify that position. In this sermon, we examine how God describes divine anger and human anger in the Old and New Testaments.
God’s anger is almost always in response to human sin. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God reacts to our disobedience with judgement. When Israel broke God’s covenant, his anger burned against his people. When Jesus found people selling animals inside the temple grounds, he made a whip of cords and drove them out. But God’s anger is always righteous, because God is God.
But God doesn’t define himself by anger but by mercy. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. In fact, whenever he’s angry, he always returns to mercy. The whole Bible is the story of God’s grace given to his people from the moment they sinned in the Garden of Eden to the day Jesus returns. God wants only to give mercy. He only becomes angry when it’s unavoidable.
Human anger, however, is almost always negative in both the Old and New Testaments. Proverbs uniformly condemns anger throughout. Cain’s anger causes him to kill Abel. The prophet Jonah becomes angry when God spares the people of Nineveh. Jesus equates anger with murder. The New Testament letters often include anger in the list of sins to avoid. the Bible, almost uniformly, condemns human anger. Righteous anger is truly a myth. It doesn’t exist.
So what do we do with anger? You’ll have to listen to the sermon to find out more.