Sunday, April 22, 2007

Authority and anger

Let it be said, I dislike authority, any authority, over me, so much so that to a certain degree, I might even be persuaded to say I hate it. I dislike being told what to do, I hate being told I'm wrong even when I know I'm wrong, I hate correction because I think my way is best, I hate anything that even suggests that I should follow a fixed set of rules or any person representing more than a benign, puppet figurehead because surely I decide where I go, what I do and whom I see. Is it impossible to be Christian and hate authority? Is to possible to submit yet demand autonomy?

There is one scene from my past that sticks in my head; I am 8 and have just written an essay for my mum to mark. I wrote the essay gladly and handed it in, confident that my mum would give me nothing but praise. My mum, being an English teacher, did not spare me from her red pen and in the end, the essay I prized so much was covered in red marks, circling amongst other things, my it's and its, that I mistook, one for the other. Initially I stood by and watched her but as the red circles increased and I realised that my mum was not going to let me go easily, I grew angry and tried to leave the room but she insisted I stay so she could show me my mistakes. Not being able to leave, I vented my frustration and anger by sitting in a corner brooding and tearing up my collection of pictures that I had carefully put together over months. Not satisfied just ripping them in half, I shredded them into tiny pices so it could not be salvaged. I even tore up the paper-plate wallet I kept them in. Because I was shown up to be less than I thought I was, I destroyed another thing in my life that gave me pleasure.

In many ways, not many things have changed. My anger stirs restlessly within all the time. It directs itself at people around me, even those that I deeply care for, situations I cannot control, at myself and ultimately God. Isn't it strange that I am angry at the Maker who created me, the Father who decided I woud be part of His family, the Author who knows all the details of my life and reads me better than I read myself, the Saviour who reconciled me to God, the Counsellor who calms my fears and dissipates my anger, the King who will welcome me with open arms to Heaven? It is at the end, destructive, a thorn and yet I feel proud of it. Sometimes I am assured my life is sanctified. Other times, I am not so sure. I know the Holy Spirit is working against the desires of the flesh within me. Not that I doubt the saving power of God's grace, but what if, at some point past, God decided I wasn't worth it. Can I ever get angry enough to turn away? Will I ever want to turn away? I see friends turn and my anger rages against them as if it is to me they have done harm. I know God gets angry when people sin but He has compassion to go with His wrath. Do I have compassion? More often than not, it is those whom my anger was directed to, who 'make amends' and so a stronger friendship is now forged. Although I only get angry when I feel wronged, my anger itself puts me, long after the incident has passed, in the wrong. Can a leader and anger go hand in hand? A fool gets angry without cause. Or maybe, regardless of cause, it is the fool who gets angry. If so, I am a fool because it takes very little, if anything to set my eyes blazing. I need a cold shower.

I know that we are never autonomous; we are either slaves to sin and rebellion against God or we are slaves to righteousness. I do wonder whether they two are interchangeable. Christians go from slaves of sin to slaves of righteousness when they are regenerated and repent. Yet there are Christians who fall away. Does that mean they go from being slaves of righteousness to slaves of sin or were they never slaves of righteousness in the first place?

In the Bible, Jesus spoke of sheep and goats and how He will separate the sheep from the goats on the last day when He comes back to judge the world. The sheep were His people and the goats were those who did not follow Him. For years I was burdened with, "What if I am a goat who is just living among sheep and think that I am a sheep? What if at the end of days, Jesus looks at me and says, "Sorry, you thought you were a sheep and yes, you lived like a sheep but you are a goat."?" I then asked myself whether I was prepared to go to Hell for God's glory since if I were a goat, it would give glory for me to go to Hell and I wanted to give God glory. It was heartbreaking to think that I might be a goat and that everything I knew and loved to be true abut my Salvation could just be something going on in my head. The thought of being possibly separated from my Saviour was horrible yet if I loved God so much, surely the right answer was to go to Hell because then He would get all the glory even if I would be separated from it forever. At times, I think I cannot be anything other than His sheep but it is up to Him who judges and who chooses.

Perhaps there is some truth in Yoda's words,

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

I suppose what I'm trying to say at the end of all that, is if you think a Christian is a happy-clappy, Easter-and-Christmas-churchgoer, hunky-dory person, you are dead wrong. Nor are all Christians are morbidly depressed on the other extreme. It is harder to be a Christian than being a regular 'moral' Joe. As a regular Joe, your principles are governed by you, for you to change at will, for you to determine, for you to rule. A Christian's life is governed by a standard humanity, with the exception of Christ the man, can never achieve. God, at work in us battles with the desires we still want to hold on to. Ultimately, we either surrender these desires to God or live in hate towards Him. By the end of this post, my anger has been somewhat abated and I know there are many things I need to let go off but the fight is constant and will continue til the day I die. Part of me will always hate authority because it is in our nature to do so. Yet the other part of me wants to put to death all things that could separate me from God. The sting of sin for everyone is death but the sting of death is no more for the one who trusts in the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross.

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