catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 14 :: 2004.09.10 — 2004.09.23


Late night thoughts on biblical imperatives

Let?s see. In Matthew (5:24), we are told, ?Be reconciled,? and in Ephesians (4:26), ?Be angry.? These two biblical commands, both rendered in the imperative tense, might themselves be a strain to reconcile and leave one endeavoring to do so, well, angry.

Perhaps the opposites of reconciliation and anger will offer a way forward: division and apathy. In being commanded to be reconciled and to be angry, we are called away from division and apathy. And it is often the experience of division?within oneself, within relationships, within society?that rouses anger within us, as well it should. We seek wholeness for ourselves—an integration of mind/body/spirit that will bring us peace and greater faithfulness. But we do not often know it. We seek harmony in our relationships—intimacy born of clear communication and mutual respect and acceptance, that will free us for courageous compassion. But we do not often know it. We seek justice in our social contexts?fairness and equality and joy, rather than destructive competition, that God?s kingdom might appear. But we do not often know it. We are wearied by division, often so wearied as to lack the energy to seek the reconciliation for which we long. Captured by paradox once again.

Frustrated by the persistent and pervasive presence of division, we may become apathetic. And how evil loves our sloth, that most pernicious of the seven deadlies. Its antidote? Anger. Being phobic about anger in the false belief that anger is not appropriate to Christians is the sure way to lose our way in pursing reconciliation. For anger is energy. Being discontent with all the divisions which beset us, inwardly and outwardly, is where we recover the energy to do the hard work of reconciliation. Anger fuels our efforts at reconciliation.

It is God?s wrath, to use an outmoded and usually misconstrued term, that motivates God to work unendingly and lovingly with the creation. God is not satisfied with the status quo, and God will not surrender the divine dream for humanity that is the Kingdom.

So, our calling is to embrace our anger at the divisions we know, and to use that sacred fire inside to seek the reconciliation to which we are called. Reconciliation is not the fruit of good intentions nor a shallow expression of our regret. It is the work of the kingdom, born of our outrage at our distance from it.

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