Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.[i]
The horse’s snorting breath mirrored the man’s angry mutterings. Saul of Tarsus was on a crusade to stamp out the heretics. He had put many in jail, many had died there and many had been taken to Rome for sport; and he had vowed with God’s help he would hound many more before he was done. He would this day arrive in Damascus and present his letter of authority to root out those witless jackanapes who believed that balderdash spread by that man named Jesus. The man huffed and hawed while murder brewed in his brain towards the ungodly, irreverent Jews who dared to believe a mere human was God. He was dead and that proved He was not God. The Sanhedrin guards swore the man’s disciples had removed the body and those Roman guards with shifting eyes had agreed.
Then the unthinkable happened. Saul glanced up as a blinding light split the sky. He fell to the ground and heard his name called, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
Astonished, Saul cried out, “Who are you, Lord?” He knew all of scripture word for word. He knew the miracles of old; and he knew all the stories of when men met God face to face.
“I AM Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard to kick against the goads.”
Thus Saul learned of who he was hurting, convicted of his sin in his chosen blindness (for he had all the facts just as John the Baptist had), and was gently reminded of the futility of spurning the guiding hand of God. Paul’s life was changed forever that day, and because of that many more lives have been changed down through the ages.
With those few words, Saul was reduced to a trembling mass of jelly. In an instant he realized what he had thought to be true was in fact a lie. Jesus was alive; and Jesus was the true Messiah. Face to the ground, breathing in the scent of hot sand, he took his first orders from the Commander of commanders. “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
This was a coming to Jesus meeting in an undeniable way. All Christians have had this meeting. Not all Christians sustain our Christ-like demeanor as did Paul, the lion-hearted crusader for Christ. The same passion he put into stamping out the supposed upstarts, he put into spreading the gospel, even more so because he suffered worse that what he had dished out.
Too bad Christians let their emotions get in the way of truly being an ambassador.
The single motivation of any attack is our sense of justice and the desire to reset the balances of our world. Science Daily[i] reported on May 4,2011, imaging studies (MRI) revealed a portion of the brain instantly registers when normal behavior is violated such as when a promise is broken. In the “game” subjects were to fairly divide a stack of money. When the unfair behavior happens, subjects will punish that behavior where upon the punishment promotes an instant aggressive response. But when a drug was used on one subject, the reaction was muted even though the subject still felt the action was unfair[ii]. This is merely scientific proof of humans being created in the image of God.
Our sense of justice was given to us by God Almighty. It is part of His image, and we Christians have a healthy dose of God’s attributes because we have the mind of Christ[iii]. Jeremiah told the people of Judah God’s covenant was to be written on our hearts and His laws would be put in our minds.[iv] Hebrews refers back to this twice, once in chapter eight and again in chapter ten which emphasizes this promise is for all God’s people. When the balance of justice is shifted weighing heavily toward one and away from another, the shift creates a reaction within the human mind which can be expressed in many different forms such as a power quest in order to shift the balance towards one’s self, or sometimes away from the perceived enemy, anger toward the offender, or a confrontation in an effort to rebalance the shift.
Too often we react explosively without asking God to guide our reactions. Why do we forget to ask? Perhaps a more direct question is: Why do we feel it is okay to shatter a sibling all in the name of the LORD?
As an example, Saul thought he knew beyond doubt when he petitioned for letters from the high priest to travel to Damascus to spread murder and mayhem amongst the Christians that his mission was sanctioned by Lord God. But He didn’t, and he wasn’t.
Saul’s sense of justice had been bruised by the Christians’ following the “upstart” Jesus. He believed Jesus was not the Messiah. Therefore he had a personal mission to set things straight; never realizing that only God can make the crooked straight[v]. Paul traveled down the road to Damascus breathing fire and murder. We have that same misguided passion when we let loose control of our fury over a perceived injustice without examining all angles of the injustice. Some may rail at certain ungodly things, or some may react to characteristics deeply and unknowingly desired, and others just might instigate strife because they are so very unhappy. There are as many reasons for anger as there are people in this world because we each have our own perceptions that we deem reality.
God gave us the emotion of anger. He has this same emotion and His wrath will most definitely be aimed at all the earth’s inhabitants on that Day of Judgment, even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the earth itself will not be spared on that final day. It will be so bad, it will take forty-five days of dusting and cleaning before the thousand days of peace can begin.[i] When our sense of justice is bruised, anger springs up and we have an urge to do something about that injustice. Only the Holy Spirit can help us discern the difference between righteous anger and unrighteous anger. We will be urged to speak up or to stand up for what is right and godly to rectify the injustices we face, and only the guidance of the Holy Spirit can keep us from departing the path lit by the Light of God onto that dangerous road to Damascus.
[i] Science Daily –Sense of Justice Built Into the Brain, Imaging Study Shows
(May 4,2011) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110503171743.htm Retrieved June 6, 2011. Published in PLoS Biology Journal, peer reviewed, retrieved June 6,2011 http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001054
[ii] Gospic K, Mohlin E, Fransson P, Petrovic P, Johannesson M, et al. (2011) Limbic Justice—Amygdala Involvement in Immediate Rejection in the Ultimatum Game. PLoS Biol 9(5): e1001054. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001054
[iii] 1 Corinthians 2:16
[iv] Jeremiah 31:33
[v] Isaiah 42:16 as well as many other places in scripture
[i] Ecclesiastes 7:9 The Message
[i] Daniel 12:11-12
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