This is hard to write.
My name is Carlene and I have become an angry Christian.
I didn’t start out that way.
I remember being full of wonder at what God was doing. I remember setting a thermos of coffee next to my bed so I could sit up and read my Bible before I left for my newspaper job at what I still consider to be the outrageous hour of 5:15 a.m. I remember praying a full hour for a young man who was a friend’s hospital patient, dying and in need of Jesus.
God didn’t change.
I just spent three decades in the church. And I became angry.
I’ve reached a point where there are times when I speak badly of other Christians. I impugn their motivations. I malign their priorities. I publicly accuse them of living in the accusative. Which is about as ironic as you can get.
I won’t tell you what has brought me to this point: that would only fuel the fire. I will tell you what has brought me to confession. A few weeks ago, I overheard a non-believer who had left the room during one of my frustrated conversations about the politicization of the conservative church say that she just didn’t have the space in her life for negativity.
That’s maybe an understatement of what God has to say on the subject. God says I don’t get to talk badly about other Christians, period. Not even when they speak badly of me — even though they usually don’t realize it, because they assume I’m a “good” Christian who agrees with their politics and so they’re slandering people who aren’t, so they think, in the room.
And this, I’ve got to say, makes being part of God’s family really hard.
My husband and I love spending time with people who don’t know Jesus. So many are being touched by God. They aren’t Christians and yet the songs they want to sing are gospel songs, the songs of Zion. They don’t know God and yet they seek after spiritual things with a passion that has long been lost from so many Christian hearts.
So many Christians, myself included, have forgotten who our Enemy is.
He has tricked us into focusing on enemies within the fold, and as a result the world does not see God’s glory in the church, as Jesus prayed. Jesus said the entire family of Christians needed to be in unity, as united as he was with the Father, so the world would know and see God’s glory through us. (John 17: 20 ff)
God said we could not afford to be pointing out what we thought was “bad growth.” Wheat and weeds had to grow together until the end of the times, else the wheat would be rooted up before it was mature. (Matthew 25: 25-30)
But we have trained ourselves in the ways of the world, I more than all others. I know how to manage the anger, not to let God free me of it. And so there are times when the pressure of being my own little containment vessel builds up and the simmering pot explodes.
- I can’t understand why half of the Republican voters in some states can’t believe our President was born in America!
- I can’t understand why voters in Georgia tried to keep our President off the Presidential election ballot this year!
- I can’t understand why Christian leaders and “prophets” are urging Christians to vote for a man who believes he will become a god, just like Jesus, in his next life — and who was, for 10 years, a pastor training others in that belief!
But that’s where I need to leave it. With me not understanding. Not debating and certainly not berating.
Because here’s what God has to say about about my anger and frustration:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” (Colossians 3:15)
I know there are those who will respond that we should be able to discuss things among ourselves.
But we don’t discuss. We point fingers; we shun; we imagine enemies where there are none and fail to see the Enemy who is animating our ignorance and rage.
It is my responsibility to “Love the brotherhood of believers” (1 Peter 2:17).
I just thank God that I can invest time loving so many brothers and sisters who have yet to believe.
And my thermos is waiting.