Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"And He Looked Up and Laughed..." : Rage in the Heart

"Sudden feeling of extreme and growing anger, resulting in tunnel vision, hyperventilation, muffled hearing, increased heart rate, extremities shaking with adrenaline, loss of capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and the dulling of the pain sensation.  Hostile, affective, reactive aggression.  Acting on impulses, usually violently, to the point that one may attack until he himself has been incapacitated or the source of his rage has been destroyed."

Rage is an ugly, ugly thing.  It's also very easy to find these days.  A hundred examples are as good as one.  Rage in this world crests and falls like a flooding torrent.  Little minds contend for power and pit brother against brother in the court houses, legislatures, churches, and streets, as well as in the figurative town squares of media and technology.   There is, without a doubt, right and wrong; there is a sacred responsibility to stand for the good and against evil.  But there's also a natural reactive instinct inside every heart that ends the argument, and "the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice" (3 Nep. 9:3).  That instinct is rage.
Rage is reasonless, loveless, and without peaceful resolution.  It doesn't matter in the end whether your rage was for or against the greater good.  Rage destroys whatever you were trying to save.  It is king of every fatal error.  It devours strength, dissolves good will, acidifies pleasantry, darkens vision, warps perspective, corrodes the best of intentions, and ultimately banishes holiness from your earthly being.  That heart-vessel meant to bear glory is made a bile-bearing slave to the adversary. "Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power" (Moses 6:15).

Few of us see ourselves as creatures of rage.  We like to believe we're always on the side of righteous indignation-- that our blood only boils against that which is legitimately unjust.  But there's a fine line between turning over the money changers' tables in the temple, and grinding the face of our fellow men because of reactionary anger.  Jesus Christ can easily tell the difference, but we too often fall prey to the cunning of his unscrupulous opponent.  When we are offended, we want to rebuke.  When we are oppressed, battered, scorned by others for our beliefs, we are inclined to take revenge, return evil for evil.  We feel justified.  Before mankind, maybe we are.  But we do not answer to mankind.  In the end, nobody does.

Why does the devil laugh?  Because these matters in which the children of God are so utterly mired, season after season, are so very small-minded and carnal and 'now.'  "A proud man is always looking down on things and people," said C.S. Lewis. "And, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."  The devil laughs because his enemies become so entrenched in the petty things of the moment that they fail to lift their eyes and look to God.  They forget why they're here.  They forget to love the Lord.  They forget to love one another.  They 'neglect the relevant questions' in favor of what is progressive and reactionary.  The devil laughs because, in a fit of 'righteous indignation,' they're losing themselves.  They're filling with anger, and they are failing.

So how does one stand for the right and manage to stay out of the mire?  The answer is in the question: stand for the right.  Remember that we are standing for something, not merely against something else.  Never depart from the sure footing of the rock of our Redeemer, certainly not to swipe at a perceived enemy.  All mankind share one common enemy.  It is he that tempts you to react instead of make clear, calculated, inspired decisions.  It is he that instructs you to wield your hurt instead of lead with your faith.

The sure way to thwart him is to develop laser-like focus on what you do believe.  When times get bleaker, turn your light up brighter.  When the crowd gets louder, keep your conversation positive, wise, edifying, and firmly rooted in the truth.  When others are attacking people, defend principles with a heart steeped in compassion for your brothers and sisters.  Stay close to the Lord, so when good people are being shamed and emptied of their courage by supporters of evil, you have a full cistern of the pure love of Christ to replenish them.  

And "love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also... 

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise...Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke, chapter 6)

 There is no higher ground, no better distance from the muddy mire of rage, than praying for love toward your enemies.  What seems like the hardest thing to ask is actually the key to overcoming the temptation to react with rage.  No enemy, however formidable, can hope to compete with an opponent who refuses to reciprocate hate, but replies to offense with ruthless kindness and compassion.  In so doing, you safeguard your own heart, and may also win back the heart of another that Satan had thought to secure for himself.  There is no greater revenge against the Common Enemy than refusing to take revenge on each other.  Forgive.  Love.  Lift.  This is the work of the Lord. 


1 comment:

  1. Another great post, Carrie. I like the imagery you put with your prose too ;)

    ReplyDelete