In my experience, Anger was a sanctioned, justifiable evangelical vice that shaped me slowly, much like a steady flow of water makes it mark along it river banks. Over time it has an enormous effect, though at the time it was never really evident. But eventually I came to realize its constant force, and that it would take great effort to recover from it.
Running the risk of hyperbole, as a young man of faith, it seems like everyone I listened to, most every source of teaching, felt like it was motivated by some kind of anger. God was angry at what a lousy follower I was. He was angry that I didn’t read the Bible enough. He was certainly pissed that I was not more concerned for the unsaved or that I didn’t give enough money.
I learned all this from those who spoke for Him. They were quick to remind of all these shortcomings, and usually with a sense of anger in their voice. Therefore if God was mad, then that gave license to be the deliverer of the Good News in a very livid way. Even last night, on my way home from work, foolishly tuning into my Christian porn radio station (porn is any medium where its power is a promise of something it can’t deliver), the preacher was boldly defending your right to attack people doctrinally. Yes, attack was the word he used. Some easily accept this premise. My spirit rejects it.
I reject it because of what I believe the nature of anger is meant to do. It is a reaction. Not a motivation. This is why I believe the Scripture is descriptive of God being slow to anger. It’s also why we are to never discipline children in anger, or let the sun go down on our anger. Anger reacts, but to what does it lead us to do?
Love, on the other hand, is a motivation. It acts. It doesn’t react.
So the anger I absorbed from the pulpit, I have now come to see it as a reaction of shortsighted men. Were they really speaking for God, or were they aware that without their anger, they would find themselves powerless, out of control, and maybe even deeper, fearful that they were going to be punished by the God they were attempting to serve?
No, I am not one of those that pick and choose the verses out of the Bible he wants to believe. The anger of God is evident throughout the Whole Story, but maybe we are inclined to preach that way because it is that with which we are most familiar. The lack of love experienced leads to a lack of love expressed.