Posted by: richard | 6 November, 2007

Brothers and sisters: anger and reconciliation

On Monday 12th Nov we will be discussing Matt 5:21-26 which is about anger and reconciliation. Please spend some time reading through the passage and reflecting on it before the session, as well as think through the following questions.

Here’s my take on this passage. Any comments or disagreements, blog it below!

Jesus here broadens the traditional interpretation of “do not murder” considerably to all that leads to breakdown of relationship. He talks about our brothers and sisters – I suggest this refers not just to fellow believers but to our fellow human. There are three broad points that Jesus makes in this section:

  • An angry word, a deliberate insult, a public slander – all these are totally contrary to the Kingdom way of love and have drastic consequences
  • If you remember that someone has something against you because you have wronged them, then as much as it depends on you, try to be reconciled. Humble yourself; reach out
  • Be quick to reconcile yourself to others; the faster the better for all concerned

Some questions:

  1. Can you think of any examples of the destructive impact of anger and relationship breakdown, in our society or in our own lives?
  2. Jesus focuses a lot here on punishment/judgement/the consequences of anger and relationship breakdown. Why does he emphasise this so much do you think?
  3. Why do we get angry so easily, and why is reconciliation so hard? Have there been moments recently when you have lashed out verbally in anger, or avoided the awkward business of reconciliation? Search your heart and pray about it.
  4. This is one application of the call to be peace makers. In our family, in our work, in our church, in our community – are there people whom we are angry with, or who have a grudge against us that we can take a step to resolve?
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Responses

  1. No fear – Beki will pass on copy to Nathan who will surely not consult this blog!!
    xx

  2. i thought nathan was a super-blogger?!

  3. Thanks all for another stimulating discussion last night.

    We discussed whether anger was always negative. I think we concluded that ‘bad anger’ is when anger is directed at a person, leading to a deterioration/breakdown in the relationship; this anger gets even more destructive if left to fester.

    We also saw that the issue goes beyond our personal anger, but that if someone has something against us, we should do all that we can to be reconciled to that person – this takes priority even over worship! And we said that if the other person does not want to be reconciled, we should at least put the ball firmly in their court by doing all we can do pave the way.

    We also discussed the small ways anger and resentment can creep into our relationships; without yelling at people we can start to treat them as annoying/irritating, and our love for them goes down as we do so. For me at least this insight was a real challenging eye-opener.

    So how do deal with anger and relationship breakdown when it happens? Rather than hoping to avoid all frustrating situations, we need to be empowered to deal with them. Pray the “help Lord!” prayer more?

    Any one else have any practical comments or suggestions regarding anger management and/or reconciliation? For further reading/listening, here is an HTB Sunday talk (with study guide!) on the subject of how to deal with anger.

  4. Interestingly I’m reading my book on emotions (the one Elaine’s getting me to read!) and I was reading the “La colère” chapter today… It’s really interesting… I could lend it to Isaline afterwards if she would like to have a look??
    xx

  5. Yes Beki, please do !

  6. We said that we weren’t going to get all picky and detailly for the sake of it, but this is the blog, so it’s different. So I’ll just say, Richard, that, on the contrary to what you said (“this takes priority even over worship”). In fact, reconciliation is worship, in itself, and we need to be in a position of heartfelt worship before we go and do the normal, classic, churchy ways of expressing worship.

    But I think that that’s what you meant.

    I think that that’s a fairly good first post.

    P.S. Beki, as this isn’t a club to discuss books that we enjoyed lately, and in order to make the discussion go forth, could you please share with the rest of us whats so interesting about your book on anger please. (by the way, this whole sentence goes in the “lol” section of my comments.) And please don’t be exclusive and be willing to share your books with only one member of our Home Group. (“lol” too btw)

  7. You see, that was me being an angry christian. These are the sorts of comments that come from angry christians, who need to go for counseling with their minister, and who shouldn’t be put in any position of leadership.

    On the other hand, a Christian writing to a newspaper about atheistic comments, or underlying implications in an article is maybe the response of a Christian who is angry of a good anger: he is moved by something hot inside him, burning for the Lord, and looking to challenge and consume the devils plans to secularize our world, and make us insidiously fall away from the Lord. The world calls such people “angry haters”, or “nutters”, or whatever. But people today, in our post-modern, compromising, pluralistic culture aren’t prepared to be told that they are wrong, or that they are disobeying God.

    There is a lot of anger in churches, but not as much as the world may think, and it may be a different sort of anger than what the world sees.

  8. “In fact, reconciliation is worship, in itself” – yes, that is what I meant…. Reconciliation is pretty much at heart of what the Kingdom is all about and what Jesus is all about as far as I can see… Colossians 20:19-23: >For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  9. Nathan what is that picture of you????
    And of course you are all welcome to my book
    And i haven’t finished the chapter so cannot summarise it!!

    And what was you being an angry Christian Nathan??
    xx


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