One emotion I’ve been working on is outrage. We are called to peace and outrage is anything but peace.
In order to work on it, I needed to reflect more on what inclines me toward outrage. Injustice, maltreatment, immorality… but it wasn’t the big blocks that would unhinge me. It was when people wouldn’t listen to me or take my advice, or when what I believed would be mocked or scoffed at. I would just get furious because I knew what I was saying was true and I wanted them desperately to hear it.
Well, I’m done being desperate.
Jackson and I are working our way through the book of Matthew and I was really struck by the parable of the sower. If you aren’t familiar, look up Matthew 13:1 — the original parable — and Matthew 13:36 — the explanation of the parable to his apostles. I would especially encourage you to do so if you are a non-believer, because Jesus is talking about you.
A parable is figurative speech that demands reflection for understanding. Only those who are prepared to explore its meaning can come to know it. God gives further understanding to those who accept the revealed mystery, and for those who reject it he takes understanding away from them.
So if in your own earthly wisdom you think you’ve sussed it all out, or you have disregarded us believers as sans raison, think again. We may walk by faith but we are grounded in reason.
Another time I would succumb to outrage is when people would obstinately refuse to reflect, especially about grave decisions — the big stuff. Instead of mulling it over they have made up their minds in minutes! Or they are so comfortable in their everyday that the impending decisions can wait.
As you can tell by my blog, reflection is utterly ingrained in my nature. In all of our natures, really, if we make time for it. Look at all of the great thinkers throughout history and their accomplishments. You simply can’t achieve what you alone are called to if you aren’t taking the time to develop who you are. If you are a slave to your own schedule or what other people demand of you or to productivity or to your paycheck, you’re not living out your unique story. I just wanted to shake people and yell “you’re not just a cog in a wheel! Snap out of autopilot!”
If you are indeed created by a Creator for a specific purpose, you won’t function well without acknowledging your Creator or getting to know him and his plan. Once you acknowledge him, worship comes easy — you are so overwhelmed and ingratiated that you want to give him thanks any way that you can. It’s just a natural unfolding.
What the Bible reveals to us is that anything that irks us Christ encountered first. And he handled it with grace, charity and peace. Here in Matthew he has empowered his listeners to make a decision and he accepts their decision. There is, therefore, 4 types of listeners:
1) Those who never accept the word of the kingdom
2) Those who believe for awhile but fall away because of persecution
3) Those who believe, but in whom the word is choked out by worldly anxiety and seduction of riches
4) Those who respond to the word and produce fruit abundantly
He doesn’t then despair. He also doesn’t become outraged by the people that refuse to hear what he’s saying — and what he’s saying is truly a life or death matter! He just keeps doing what he came to earth to do: heal the sick, instruct the ignorant, love people, spread Truth. He wants people to have his peace and life in abundance, but if they refuse to hear, repent and change that is not his burden.
I become frustrated because I was once one of the very people I’m talking about! A complete nonbeliever who decried the Bible as “one of the greatest fiction books of all time”. I was angry. I was ignorant. And anyone trying to teach me about Truth, their words fell upon deaf ears. I didn’t understand what shame was or how it manifested. My conscience was unformed. And I was so utterly unhappy and alone; anything but peaceful. I was in true pain, mentally, emotionally and spiritually… but I didn’t know how to articulate that. In the past few years as I have come to know Christ — who He really is and who I believe He is — everything has changed. Truly, as it is said in Matthew “to anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” It isn’t mean or retaliatory. It just is the way it is. And I have truly experienced it.
That’s why it is so important to me to try to share what I have found with other non-believers. Open your minds, let down your defenses. Us followers have nothing earthly to gain through your exploration. The original disciples believed in their convictions about the risen Christ unto death. And we’re not just talking about their martyrdom — they were mocked, beaten, and persecuted throughout their entire lives and then died painful deaths in a refusal to betray their Lord and God. That’s really saying something.
What do you believe in so strongly that you would give your entire life for? For me, that is the peace, joy and understanding I have found in Christ’s Church. I never want to live without Him again.
A really simple, easy-to-read book about who Christ is is “Made For More” by Curtis Martin. Martin helps you determine for yourself who Christ was and what exactly went down.
These questions are really worth setting aside some time to reflect upon and make a decision about. But ultimately it’s up to you to determine which of the four listeners you’ll be.