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paul good morning friends how you doing today great to see you if you’re visiting my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here we’re in a series on emotions and so to help us talk about that a little bit I’ve got a question for you do you know the difference statistically between how many men are colorblind and women are colorblind super surprising one in 12 men are color blind one in 200 women are color blind or maybe not surprising if you’re married in a relationship maybe like the girl just turns to the guy and she’s like that’s why you think you can wear those pants with that shirt and you’re 100 wrong like finally I have an answer for my life I’m just like there is a difference in the way that men and women see color generally men see things a little bit differently and so to quiz you I would ask you this what color is this because you might say blue or you might say it’s cerulean but I can predict with like fair certainty that that if you’re a guy you didn’t say cerulean because your range of colors is probably not that broad there’s going to be some guy that comes and complains to me like no no I definitely knew it was cerulean let me just say this I’m going to generalize massively today and I get to do that because I’m stood here and you’re not there is blue and then there is cerulean guys see things differently we have a not less of a range of colors necessarily but more but less details around colors so there’s these helpful diagrams to talk through like all the different colors that apparently women can see and all the ones that men can see so if you can’t read those from where you are did you know there was a color called spin drift spindrift is apparently a color I thought that was what you did when you were driving in the snow and you try and drift around the corner and your car goes into a spin or something like that or does this like the difference between clover and fern and mars and all of these different things men and women see colors differently it’s not that the range is less the details are less here’s a question though what if men do emotions like they do colors what if there’s a sense that when we have some of those conversations in relationships why is the guy in my life not able to express himself emotionally why is it just oh I’m happy oh I’m sad I’m just like there somewhere in that range maybe men do emotions in the same way that they do colors it’s not that the range is less it’s just that the details are less when we started this series on emotions a few weeks ago we gave you all an emotion wheel that starts with some of those core emotions starts with some of those things like happy uh and sad and disgust and anger and fear and surprise but then it makes its way out into these emotions that maybe most guys in the room would say I have never felt or think I would ever feel that particular emotion worthlessness insignificant inadequate alienated this there are so many of them and I probably couldn’t narrow down to like no that’s the exact thing I’m feeling where I can live is happy sad disgust surprised some of those core emotions maybe we just see emotions just a little bit differently but for some of you especially if you’re new to the series the question might be why are we talking about emotions at all is that something that we need to have conversations about in church like is that something that God has a value on what I would say is is this feelings emotions bring new data that is missing when only thoughts are trusted when you just live in your head just live on information I would suggest you’re not living into the wholeness of a human being and as a community I would say that can be true as well I’ve been with you guys at south here for about a year and a half and I love this community but what I would say is we tend by nature to be something of a a hands and a head community what do I mean by that we like new information we deal with that very well we process things on a sort of fairly deep level and then also we like to go and do things we like to be practically involved in our community but we would I might say we would struggle a little bit when it comes to processing feelings and the heart and those emotions were maybe a little bit more hesitant in some of those areas it is good to feel that you are loved by the God of the universe it is good to be in this community and say I had an experience where I just knew and just processed yes in my heart I feel that God loves me and values me there is nothing wrong with those kind of experiences and when as we as a community become heart as well as hands and head we are more whole God is shaping us in good ways from the earliest part of the bible what we see is emotion is a huge part of it from the early hebrew tradition on the story of the first family adam and eve for those of you that are new to this bible thing was understood as fundamentally about emotions and emotional suffering in this place called eden human beings had emotion and then there was this event called the fall and in that process suddenly emotions are not just good or pleasant perhaps is a better word they suddenly become more difficult to handle we were made with emotion but the fall introduces emotional suffering so last week we had kevin come teach us on the idea of dealing with shame and I just loved hearing him process just his experience dealing with that and so many of you I know you came up to me afterwards and said it was just a revelation for you one person said I finally have a word to sort of help me unpack my whole life which just how incredible is that and because I love music I think often in music terms and and in the 90s this band called nine inch nails did this song called hurt and and it’s all about just that processing of just emotional pain and suicidal ideation and then johnny cash comes along and sings it at 85 and it just gives it a completely different tone suddenly you’re hearing a guy in his 80s unpacking that now kevin’s here so I’m not suggesting for a second he’s in his 80s but he is a little bit older than me and what I got to hear was just the experience of someone just having processed this over a whole life and it was just life-giving to hear that shame is something that comes out of eden and something that can lead us to so many other emotions it’s something that fundamentally we have to learn to be able to deal with and today we get to move on to this emotion anger an emotion that it seems is often described as something that men struggle with and not women and yet as I got to do some research as I got to ask some questions around this the reality is that that’s not true at all what we see is that men and women both struggle with anger but we deal with it differently it often outworks itself differently and one of the things that was intriguing to me was as I listened to different female podcasters talk about their struggle with anger one of the things they said over and over again was I see it like this men are allowed to show anger it almost has a value in society and when I show anger it’s not valued it’s not allowed it’s not safe there is no permission for women to show anger so we’re gonna spend just the morning unpacking that where does anger come from what is the deal with that and to do that we’re gonna look at this old story genesis chapter four if you have a text many of you will be familiar with the story of cain and abel so here we go verse one of chapter four adam made love to his wife eve and she became pregnant and gave birth to cain she said with the help of the lord I have brought forth a man later she gave birth to his brother abel so from the beginning the names are really interesting cain has this connotation to it I’ve created and so some of eve’s language in the light of the fall is this with God’s help admittedly I have created if you remember the genesis 3 story had that language of they will become like God when they eat this fruit and so still in eve’s language we heard we hear that language I am now the creator of someone look what I have done and then abel’s name is heartbreaking for its foreshadowing habel as it would be pronounced simply means breath or breeze like it’s there in a moment and it’s gone it’s the language of vapor it doesn’t last it’s a voice into the whole of humanity because most of us know right where abel’s story is going to go now abel kept flocks and cain worked the soil some would suggest that somewhere the bible is saying that being nomadic keeping sheep and moving them around is better than being a tender of crops but adam and eve were tenders of crops I don’t see any reason to read that into it in the course of time cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the lord and abel also brought an offering fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock somewhere in their wiring these two men know that their relationship with God has to be crafted and curated with a gift that know instinctively that that’s something they must do there’s no written command at the moment that says they must do this but somewhere internally something says to them no bring something and they take what they are doing in this world and bring the first part of that to God but what we see is this that is now work it’s no no longer like eden where they were simply tending something naturally there is now a process they have to go through the eden the post-eden world it’s different this world is now against them eden was for them that place was for them it was on their side now the world is in opposition to them and in eden they were for each other they were supportive of each other they worked in this perfect unity now that has changed in the posted world the world is against them and they are now against each other ridden into this early part of the human story is this opposition and don’t we see that today don’t we see that sense of competition from our earliest moments don’t we see that sense of having to earn our place whether that’s as a nation whether that’s as an individual broadly speaking we get that sense of competition there is this old arabic proverb that goes something like this me against my brothers me and my brothers against my cousins me and my cousins against the world there is unity at times but it’s always crafted at its heart be in opposition to each other we are constantly warring to find some space they bring their offerings and we’re told this the lord looked with favor unable and his offering but uncain and his offering he did not look with favor so cain was very angry and his face was downcast there’s no reason given for abel’s offering being accepted and cain’s not at this point anyway in the new testament gets unpacked a little bit more but the best we could say is it seems like cain brings just what he has what’s left and maybe abel brings it says the fat portions the good stuff he brings the best of what he has maybe the language we might use in church is the first fruits and so cain when he’s rejected becomes angry and his face is downcast the first motion in the story is anger except well at least that’s what the english version of the bible you have in front of you will say because the reality is it’s a little bit more complicated than that the word that we’re reading there in hebrew is this word hara it means to burn with anger yes at times but depending on the context it’s in it’s also distress it’s also sadness it’s also depression cain’s emotion might be anger right now but it also could be sadness and in the actual fact in the ancient near east that idea of having a face that was down cass spoke of sadness and de depression the first emotion in the story could be anger it could be sadness doesn’t that tap back into our emotions conversation the first human male to express emotion in the bible doesn’t really know how he’s feeling doesn’t know how to articulate exactly what is going on there is sadness yes there is depression yes and then we know where it goes it turns to anger turns to rage eugene peterson in the message simply says this cain lost his temper and went into a sock kane is described like a five-year-old child it’s like that that tantrum he throws himself on the ground somebody else was treated or rewarded well and he doesn’t like it so he sulks and God in his goodness will unpack that with cain and for cain then the lord said to cain why are you angry again or sad or depressed why is your face down cast if you do what is right will you not be accepted if you do not do what is right sin is crouching at your door it desires to have you you must rule over it God’s language for kenny’s kane you will always struggle with these things your emotions will war against you and they will potentially lead to actions that are bad you are going to have to master this you’re going to have to deal with this to live well before me and then the story moves on in this fascinating way because it just so succinctly just trots into the next part of the story now kane said to his brother abel let’s go out to the field the language could be let’s take a walk together let’s go for an afternoon stroll we’ve got nothing to do let’s just go and just enjoy each other’s company let’s go and see the sights let’s go into the mountains and have a look and see what creation looks like and then while they were in the field kane attacked his brother abel and killed him the first death of a person within scripture is at the hands of another human being it’s not natural it’s not in the normal course of things the first death is because one human attacked another somewhere we see ridden into who we are as people in this fallen world is that we have this tendency towards self-destruction by nature we don’t make things good by nature our fallen nature we make things worse we break and we destroy regardless of the first emotion whether it’s sadness or whether it’s anger cain’s anger is what it is eventually and it leads it leads to murder so it’s not surprising I would guess that when Jesus comes along and brings his brilliance to these thoughts he ties murder and anger together this is matthew chapter 5 verse 21. you have heard that it was said to the people long ago you shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment I was once asked to do a sermon by a lead pastor on it was the ten commandments and he said would you do you shall not murder and I’m like what am I supposed to say to people it’s just like point one don’t kill each other okay I’m done everyone go home early grab lunch get brunch with someone but Jesus will push us further right he won’t let it sit at just you shall not murder but I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment Jesus sees the connection between anger where it can go and what it can result in he sees what is in the human heart and that in itself is a challenge to us right we know our own hearts a lot of the time I know the revenge fantasies I know the moments where someone has upset me and I think about all the ways that I could get back at them I know where it can go and Jesus does too Jesus will also I think pick up on this other element of this cane and able story perhaps maybe the most heartbreaking part of it look how cain unpacks what he has done the lord said to cain where is your brother abel I don’t know he replied am I my brother’s keeper it’s not the anger that’s the worst part of the story it’s the contempt the anger we can kind of understand the desire for revenge or the desire at least for to be aggressive to someone who’s getting in your way but what we see with cain is just this I don’t know it’s not he’s dead it’s not he’s alive it’s just it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter whether he’s dead or alive right now it’s simply contempt I don’t know he replied am I my brother’s keeper and Jesus unpacks this tendency in us as well again anyone who says to a brother or sister wracker is answerable to the court it’s a term of insult like you idiot you nerd you whatever I don’t know whatever insults we’re using today and anyone who says you fool this term of contempt this worthless person you’ll be in danger of the fires of hell Jesus sees contempt he sees anger and he sees murderers all interrelated and he sees the possibility of the human heart and where it can go and maybe the most heartbreaking part of the story in itself is God’s response genesis chapter 4 verse 10 the lord said what have you done listen your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground now you are under a curse and driven from the ground which opened his mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand I used to read God here as angry now again I see sadness I see grief I see the same voice as we saw in genesis chapter three this moment where adam and eve are for the first time hidden from God I see the language of God there is just where are you you used to live before me and with me and now you’re distant and I see here that what have you done how has it ended like this how have you become this unhuman thing you were made in my image and this isn’t what an image of bearer of God does do you see your own story here because I see mine I see my tendency towards anger no matter how I am on the surface I see what it is to be like kane the language hurrah that we talked about earlier what it means at its root its most primitive language root is this it is a burning in the chest it’s a somewhere there is a fire in here it is almost inhuman it is the language of what it is to to move from humanity to become to become almost a dragon to become the thing that we we talk about in fairy tales the thing that has fire within it that that can that can go anywhere that can attack anyone at any moment there is an inhumanness to the way that anger is described to where the way that kane’s actions are described though sing a songwriter paul simon said this anger is an addiction we like it the brain likes it and now you’ve got a country full of addicts and the media and certain politicians are the dealers so everybody’s angry all the time I’m not saying there’s nothing to be angry about what I’m saying is you can’t make a calm decision when somebody’s got you in a rage that’s really perceptive language from someone who’s just supposed to write songs for a living the the truth is that anger isn’t always bad anger when it’s based on injustice can be a good thing where would we be without martin luther king’s sense of anger and injustice where would we be without gandhi’s sense of injustice where would we be without the injustice of anyone who has done anything to shape the world in good and new ways but what we see from them is this we see action and not reaction we see a decision to do something in the face of the way that the world looks we don’t just see unsort of conscious rage and somewhere anger has become an addiction perhaps for many of us in kane’s story anger builds and builds till it leads to murder while they were in the field kane attacked his brother abel and killed him have you felt that burning in the heart that sense of rage that almost uncontrollable sense I felt it just a couple of weeks ago with this company um

now now let me say this I like to tell people I was an apple early adopter I was on their team when none of you guys were on their team you know back before their iphones and stuff and so I I went to them because they have great customer service I was like you really look after your people and the other day I had to send them an ipad that I’d broken for the third time and and so I said I need a new ipad I have apple care could you send me one they said absolutely we’ll look after you we’ll send you a new ipad it will be there tomorrow and you just send us your old one when you’re ready and anytime in the next 10 days and all will be well a month later I still have not had an ipad it’s been in indianapolis for like three weeks and then it goes back to apple goes back to california and and so I call them and say guys where’s my ipad like you promised me my ipad and they the lady on the phone who did not deserve what I did said we’re really sorry you don’t have apple care and I said well I did a month ago when you said that you’d send it to me and she said well I’m ever so sorry you don’t have it now we can’t see any record of you ever having it could you give us your apple care number I said no I don’t have it I don’t know what you’re talking about just send me my ipad uh I was very much like kane in that moment I was a raging raging angry child and they said no we ultimately can’t help you and then I lost it I went on this big rant about how I’d been involved in apple before anybody else cared and I worked with this company and and we all use apple and and I said and I remember saying this in the final like defeated moment I was like I could just stop everyone using apple in our company but that wouldn’t even matter to you you’re the biggest company in the world it’s just it’s just not fair just so angry maybe you felt that sense of internal rage maybe it’s sometimes over the silliest thing maybe for some of you it’s facebook marketplace that moment you think you’ve agreed to buy something from someone and then you get a message that simply says oh sorry we sold it to somebody else and you’re like but why we had a deal did they just offer you an extra 50 for the car or something and that was worth it for you to break a social contract that we made it’s that rage of like that helplessness it’s the moment some of you had when you drove here this morning who are my road rage people in the house I know there’s some of you there’s some honesty I love it more finger-pointing than honesty um I love some of you are very happy to call out your your spouse or your friend or whoever on road rage but road rage is a thing right we we have this experience of trying to get somewhere and somebody else either through incompetence or malevolence is in our way they are stopping our progress and we suddenly find ourselves to become inhuman monsters we become the dragon in those moments this person is going to get it from me I’m so mad but road rage in itself as much as it’s funny to talk about it is actually a perfect illustration of what is at the core of anger road rage offers a window into the common cause of our anger because the common cause of our anger friends is this somebody has stopped me getting where I want to be somebody has stopped me getting where I want to be in road rage that’s the physical sense of I’m late for work probably because it’s somebody else’s fault so I’m trying to drive faster than I should and this person is driving slow and they’re in the way I’m now maybe stressed because I know that I have so much to do and I’m so busy or maybe worried about how I’ll be perceived because I’ve been late or something like that practically physically in road rage somebody else is physically in our way but almost all anger starts from the fact that whether it’s physical or mental psychological somebody else is in our way somebody else’s actions are affecting us being who we want to be or where we want to be maybe it’s simply that your friend roommate husband wife whoever hasn’t done the dishes and now you have to do them and now you can’t be all the things that you want it to be maybe it’s with your kids or grandkids they act a certain way how will you be perceived when your kids are seen to be acting like that so much of our anger is built out of that sense of somebody is in my way I was listening to a podcast as I was prepping this sermon and someone said most anger comes from these four things stress injustice failure or embarrassment I am stressed because there is so much to do and so I’m angry at my kids who need my time there’s an injustice something is wrong in the world someone has bought my facebook market place thing apple won’t play by the rules of human nature there’s this sense of injustice that’s there there’s failure I tried to do something and I wasn’t successful and maybe that’s just tied to embarrassment how are you perceiving me right now it all links back to what kevin talked about last week it’s links back to shame am I am I enough somebody gets in our way and we are angry and and some of you might sit there and say you know what I can see now ways that anger has affected all of these different things it’s affected my friendships my marriage is parenting businesses careers there is a route to anger we struggle with it we become these different kinds of creatures there is a burning heart or a burning within us that can just unleash itself on almost anyone around us so what do we do with that if that’s our problem like what do we do what do I do with my anger maybe you’d sit here and say you know what Jesus may talk about anger been bad the bible may talk about anger being a problem but I disagree like maybe the best thing is just to let it go just to vent it that’s what dragons do right they have the fire inside them they let it go or well they’re not real but it seems like that might be something we can do do we let anger erupt there are some people that would say maybe yes there are these things called rage rooms where you get to go and destroy something although people that go don’t tend to feel much better they often feel more angry I picked up this picture from the awesome movie office space in the 90s this is the guys who are just so angry with this printer that is ruining their lives destroying the printer and this was the best picture I could find and I loved that it had 2016 on the printer down there and it was like ha you guys are going to love 2020 if you thought 2016 was bad it’s like another level now I’d love to go back to 2016. life was so simple in 2016 2020 2021 maybe not so much but there is this idea just let it erupt find this vent point for your anger in kane’s story we get to see where anger goes in terms of what happens to his brother but I don’t know if we get to see the full reality of what happens if we just let our anger vent God almost cuts off the story it’s really interesting let’s just look at the end of that genesis chapter four cain said to the lord my punishment is more than I can bear that language could be can I be forgiven is that even possible today you are driving me from the land I will be hidden from your presence I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and most importantly at the bottom and whoever finds me will kill me cain knows how vengeance works he has done something and somewhere that could be vengeance for what he has done and here God cuts that story short but the lord said to him not so anyone who kills cain will suffer vengeance seven times over then the lord put a mark on cain so that no one who found him would kill him so cain went out from the lord’s presence and lived in the land of nard east of eden the story ends there the violence stops there the anger stops there the vengeance stops there but in other places in the scripture in the writings it doesn’t stop there this is judges chapter 15 a story about a guy called samson known for his long hair he was very strong because of it I tried to grow my hair to become really strong it didn’t work although I did cut it all off once and no life someone at work said this to me you look worse

you you had this presence when you walked into room and it’s like diminished so there is a lesson once you have long hair you should never cut it and samson eventually learns this lesson as well we’re told at the time of the wee harvest samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife that may seem strange to us but often in the early part of the marriage right after the ceremony husbands and wives looked set lived separately and then the the father of the man that was married would build an addition often to his house so that they could live there we’re told here he said I am going to my wife’s room but her father would not let him go in so we start here with a marriage okay remember that we start with a marriage where does the story go I was so sure you hated her he said that I gave her to your companion isn’t her younger sister more attractive take her instead we begin with a marriage and we progress to a story where the father of the bride gives the bride away to one of the groom’s friends how will samson take this samson a man known for his anger known for his rage samson said this time I have a right to get even with the philistines I will really harm them so he went out and caught 300 foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs he then peter would hate this part of the bible he then fastened a torch to every pair of tails even worse lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the philistines he burned up the shocks and the standing grain together with the vineyards and the olives olive groves we started with a wedding we then had a moment where the bride is given to someone else now the crops are on fire and people are going to go hungry how does the story progress when the philistines asked who did this they were told samson the tim knight’s son-in-law because his wife was given to his companion so the philistines have somebody now to blame remember we started with a wedding we ended up with a different kind of wedding and now we’ve got crops on fire where will this go when the philistines asked who did this they were told samson the demonic son-in-law because his wife was given to his companion so the philistines went up and burned her and her father to death we started with a wedding we had a different wedding we had crops on fire and now we have people on fire samson said to them since you’ve acted like this I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you he attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them then he went down and stayed in the cave in the rock of a town it’s like he went on vacation I went down to stay in the cave and the rock that’s just the place that I go after I’ve killed many people apparently in samson’s mind the story is baffling where does it go from here the philistines went up and camped in judah so now the philistines are marshaling an army and a camped in judah spreading out near lahi the people of judah asked why have you come to fight against us we have come to take samson prisoner the answer to do to him as he did to us then three thousand men from judah went down to the cave in the rock of a town and said to samson don’t you realize that the philistines are rulers over us what have you done to us he answered I merely did to them what they did to me seems like we’ve heard that language somewhere before it’s becoming like the refrain of the passage they said to him we have come to tie you up and hand you over to the philistines samson said swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves agreed they answered we will only tie you up and hand you over to them we will not kill you so they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock as he approached lahi the philistines came towards him shouting the spirit of the lord came powerfully upon him the ropes and his arms became like charred flax and the bindings dropped from his hands finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men you can buy anything on the internet these days it seems this is the jawbone actually it’s a buffalo jawbone there’ll be someone who’s like that’s not a donkey jawbone couldn’t find a donkey okay it smells bad and this donkey’s teeth were this buffalo’s teeth were definitely in need of dental care um very very british teeth you might say um

we started with a wedding we had a different wedding an unplanned wedding then the crops were on fire then the people were on fire then more people died and now a thousand people are dead by a guy swinging a jawbone this is where anger goes when left unchecked this is where revenge goes when left unchecked and look how the story ends then samson said with a donkey’s jawbone I made donkeys of them with the donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men samson has killed a thousand men with a jawbone and he’s writing verse he’s writing poetry making fun of the dead men and then he drops the jawbone it’s like there it is that’s the end of the story except for those of you that have read it you know it isn’t even the end of the story this story won’t end till samson is stood in a foreign temple with thousands of philistines and in one last moment of strength puts his hand on two columns and brings the whole structure down on them and on himself this story won’t end until everybody is dead this is where anger goes when it’s left unchecked this is what anger anger goes when we live in our own humanness and and remember again I’m not talking about the sense of injustice that leads you to positive action I’m simply talking about the sense of the burning heart within me that just unleashes itself on those around me this is where it goes when we’re left to vent it this is where it goes when we become vesuvius where we simply unleash the anger but what’s the other alternative do we just hold it in is that what Jesus says when Jesus says to us don’t be angry is it simply just stuff it down and I question that and I doubt that because I’ve done that and I know it doesn’t work I used to joke with my family that my dad could wash dishes angry I could watch him at the sink we didn’t have a dishwasher and I could see him knowing that he was supposed to work and I could see that sense of injustice somebody else is getting in the way of where I’m supposed to be and now here I am stood at a sink washing dishes and he wouldn’t yell and he wouldn’t shout but he could see it in all of his body language I am mad I am angry that I am having to do this and I know it especially now because now I do it too now I become my father that’s how it works right you become one of your parents at least that’s the way it seems to work and so now I can stand at a sink washing dishes feeling somebody else should have done this not me and I don’t yell and I don’t shout but somewhere there is an internal sense of ah this isn’t fair maybe you’ve done what I have done maybe you’ve not yelled and not shouted but you can remember times where you had deep fantasies about what you would do to the person that has gotten in your way that has harmed you that has hurt you I remember once being in an argument with someone about something and driving to tennessee the next day overnight and all the way there just thinking about the ways that I would I would deal with this situation if I could thinking about the ways that I was just full of anger full of rage not yelling not shouting but somewhere just trying to stuff it deep down inside I know from good conversations that some of you would honestly say anger is a real struggle for me I struggle with rage I struggle with yelling I struggle with the dragon coming from out from within me and and just venting on whoever is around me but I know there’s others of you including myself that struggle with the opposite we believe because of Jesus words the the thing to do is to just shove it deep down inside believing that that will mean that it never ends up there it never ends up with a thousand people dead and yet what happens so much of the time is this the fire that could have consumed other people it feels like it’s consuming us inside instead like is this how I’m supposed to be is this Jesus best for me when Jesus says that no no you’re not supposed to be angry is this what he had for me I just wonder if it is I just wonder if Jesus has something better I just wonder if his death and resurrection means a different kind of life that we can actually live where it isn’t just anger deep and internal hidden away inside us and when it isn’t anger just vented on the world around us I wonder if he has a different kind of humanness for us a different way to live in what it is to be the image of God is there a third way is there a third way and I would suggest that a third way begins here it begins with honesty not necessarily with the person that has hurt us the person we’re mad with not necessarily with apple computers but maybe with God himself sigmund freud it seems saw some of this when he said that counseling was a great place to let anger out but maybe an even better place is with God himself in relationship with him there are these things in the bible within the writings called imprecatory psalms if you’ve never read them there’s some of the most fascinating language that you’ll ever come across because they really give that like human sense you might read them for the first time and say is this how God feels and the answer is no this is how humans feel this is how humans like you and I often feel this is psalm 58 maybe one of the best of them break the teeth in their mouths oh God lord tear out the fangs of those lions let them vanish like water that flows away when they draw the bow let their arrows fall short may they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along like a stillborn child that never sees the sun I love that language like a slug that melts away let the sun get so hot for them it burns them up God this is language of what it is to long for vengeance long for your enemies to be treated as you feel like they should be treated and maybe a beginning of dealing with anger for us begins with honesty the writer walter bruggeman says this imprecatory psalms are like what it is for a child who’s mad at its sibling to come before the God of the universe as a parent and complain and to ask what they feel like justice is to say you need to deal with this and his question is this what does a good parent do in that moment a good parent probably doesn’t just say oh yeah I’m gonna do all the things that you have on your list in that moment where you come and say my sibling did this I remember this one time where I was out playing in the yard with my brother and he just threw an apple at my head and I was like what is wrong with you who does something like that and I went to my parents with my complaint I’m like you’ve got to fix this guy you’ve got to give justice you need to act here in this moment and I probably had a long list of all the ways that they would act in in ways that I thought were appropriate and a good parent probably doesn’t say in that moment give me your list I’ll make it happen for you but a good parent doesn’t also say you gotta fix this yourself just just live with it it doesn’t matter it’s not important your feelings your emotions they don’t matter to me just get over it put some vaseline on it or whatever you do put some like you know clean it up somehow just get on with life a good parent does neither of those things but a good parent does bring us through this conversation of I totally understand why you are so mad can you trust me to deal with this I can handle the justice you have to let me do it it seems like for us those moments of rage those moments of anger those moments that are so often justified somebody has heard us perhaps very deeply and in those moments we come to the God of the universe as a parent and we say this is what I want you to do I’m trying not to act on it myself I’m trying not to live my own justice I’m coming to you for that justice the God of the universe walks us through this journey of hearing us in our moment of pain but perhaps as well leading us into a next step maybe he leads us into humility maybe he leads us into an honest statement maybe I don’t know the full picture maybe I don’t have all of the information there’s a fascinating character in the bible his name is absalom he’s the son of the famous king david who wrote many of the psalms and absalom was someone who was convinced he knew exactly what justice looked like if only someone would appoint me judge in the land then everyone with a grievance or dispute could come to me and I would give him justice for absalom he knows what justice looks like and he knows how to act on it but humility demands that we say this I don’t know if I do know what justice is and I may not have the answer and there may be ways that this person who hurt me has been broken and hurt themselves there may be ways that what has been done to them was also horrific this is a different picture than just what was done to me I will now do to others this requires that we say maybe I don’t have the information I need to make this judgment and then maybe the last part is this maybe when you’re ready you finish by handing over the jawbone we see what happens when anger leads to its ultimate thing a man is set free miraculously and the first thing he does in that moment is he picks up the nearest object and at the end of it a thousand people are dead somewhere it seems our conversation with God leads us through these different stages it can begin with honesty I want this this is what I want you to do make it fair but it moves us to humility to say maybe I don’t know and maybe I’m not the best person to decide and maybe you are and then maybe in that moment before people start dying before the dragon unleashes its flames before everything goes nuclear maybe we take the jawbone before it’s covered with the blood of other human beings made in the image of God and we hand it over and hopefully you get at this point that the jaw bone is just metaphorical I don’t believe you actually have jaw bones hidden away ready to assault other human beings but I do know from my own experience that maybe you have other weapons I told you about sitting there in that car driving eight hours overnight thinking through all the words I would use all the words that I could weaponize to make sure that the other person knew just how wrong they are we may not pick up jaw bones but we can weaponize words and say I’m going to use this because I know that this hurts the most we can weaponize old stories and situations oh I may have done this this time but remember back 10 years ago when we were on vacation together you did this thing and it was awful and I still remember there are things that we can choose to weaponize and humility the honesty and humility leads us to say in the end God I’m turning over the jawbone I’m turning over the weapon that I know that I can use in my anger to hurt the person that hurt me I’m turning over the right to say I’m only doing to them what they did to me and I’m going to trust you to bring justice let’s take a moment to pray bob is going to come and play for us and I’m just going to lead us through just a short practice based around that idea

I’m going to invite you to um for a moment to contemplate the idea of anger maybe for you it’s deeply connected to that word shame we used last week

maybe you have moments where you’re stressed you haven’t been treated fairly you’ve failed or are embarrassed and you sense that burning in your heart the thing that makes you feel almost inhuman

maybe for you there’s been moments where you’ve vented it on those around you maybe sometimes the people that didn’t deserve it

and right now the the gut of the universe comes and walks alongside you and says I know

but that isn’t the pathway for you there is a new way to be human

maybe for you you’ve taken anger and you’ve just stuffed it down so deep inside that you like in some ways like you don’t even know how to feel anymore you don’t even know what you’re feeling there’s a numbness a crust that has appeared around the edge it cannot must make it feel impossible to enter God’s presence because it’s just so much going on in there the fire may not have consumed other people but it’s definitely consuming you

in this moment what we get to do is we get to come to the God of the universe who loves us and say God I’m just so mad

look what has been done to me it’s not fair somebody else is getting in my way and I want them moved out of the way I want you to deal with them I want you to make them like the slugs that dry up in the heat I want you to break the teeth in their mouths deal with this

and maybe in that moment

the God of the universe just nudges us towards humility maybe he whispers to us a child you don’t see as completely as you think you do doesn’t minimize our pain doesn’t say that it doesn’t matter but maybe just reminds us that there are other there are other stories that we are not familiar with

and then finally there is a moment a conversation

in which he says to us would you drop the weapon would you let it go

I know it’s hard to surrender I know it’s hard to give we sang these dangerous words at the start of the service we sang about giving everything to Jesus and then sometimes he comes along and he tries to take something that we’ve held very dearly our right to vengeance our right to do to them what they did to us

you may go away to other good conversations with good counselors with wise friends with pastors you may honestly say I have internalized this for so many years now it feels like it takes more than just a sermon or a teaching to bring me through this process and that’s all good that’s fine but you can begin every one of us can begin by being honest God this is what I want

Jesus thank you for your new way to be human I think that you that in asking so much of us you don’t ask and just say now it’s on you through your death and resurrection you come alongside us you live within us and you empower us to do hard things

so for my friends my brothers and sisters for whatever they need from you in this moment would you bring it and give it and grant it

in those moments where we’re tempted this week to become less than human would you remind us that we are made in your image

and continue to shape us in your likeness amen friends have a great sunday go in peace