Is outrage a Christian value? Maybe it depends on what we’re outraged about. In the current political climate, it seems the entire nation is outraged—or at least a very vocal portion. I’ve seen post after post urging us to “stay outraged” until things go our way. But is outrage a good thing? When is outrage appropriate?
It depends on what we mean by outrage. So that we’re all on the same page, let’s see how the dictionary defines it:
- An act of wanton cruelty or violence; any gross violation of law or decency.
- Anything that strongly offends, insults, or affronts the feelings.
- A powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice.
Synonyms include: indignation, fury, anger, rage, disapproval, wrath, and resentment.
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God…
Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we Rise
There’s no One like You
None like You.
What an appropriate song for our church to sing this weekend! I doubt Chris Tomlin meant “out of the ashes we rise” literally when he wrote those words, but that’s exactly what so many in our congregation are doing this summer.
The service continued with other songs about how great and powerful God is, and how we can trust him in the midst of adversity. It was powerful. And yet…
“We know how to celebrate Christmas. We’ve got that down to a science. We just haven’t figured out how to celebrate Jesus.”
This quote is from Matt, who blogs at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com. While his posts are always thought-provoking and entertaining (yes, he manages to accomplish both!), this statement really got me thinking.
It’s true. Our culture is so bound up in Christmas that we miss Jesus. Even in the church, we sometimes focus on the Christmas program, the poinsettias for the platform, the gifts for missionaries, the songs, the turkeys for the poorer part of town, the lights, and all the other holiday accessories, that we just don’t have time for the birthday boy. Have we even invited Him to the party?
Waking to the insistent beeping of my alarm clock, I groggily thought, “I have got to learn to say no!”
Usually, life ambles along at a fairly reasonable pace. There are brief stretches when we’re too busy, and even briefer stretches where I have enough spare time that I consider adding another responsibility, but for the most part, I have a good balance between working hard and relaxing, with plenty of time for contemplating God at work in my life.
Lately, all that balance has come crashing down on the side of overload.
There’s work to attend to, housework needs doing, and I’m spending far more time than I had anticipated on a photography class I’m taking. The perennials out in the yard are clamoring for me to clean off last year’s winter-killed stems and leaves, and the vegetable seeds I ordered need planting.
I wish I hadn’t procrastinated.
The room was still dark when I woke up this morning. Squinting at the clock, I read the glowing numbers: 4:25. Ugh. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but my brain had already switched on—then immediately kicked into overdrive. I tried to tell it that I didn’t need to get up for another two hours, but it wasn’t listening. “Taxxxxesssss,” my brain hissed, reminding me of Gollum.
That’s right. Today is the deadline. I can’t put it off any longer. I have to fill our my quarterly sales tax forms—one for the city and one for the county/state. I imagine the FBI knocking on my door in the middle of the night and dragging me away for sales tax delinquency. I shiver.
“Sales tax? That’s all?” you ask. “What’s the big deal?”
I still cringe when I remember the year my parents decided to mess with family tradition. We’d always had a real Christmas tree, illuminated with those large, old-fashioned lights (now considered the height of retro-fashion!) and hung with lead-filled crinkled “icicles” (long banned by the EPA). But the year I turned ten, my mother decided it was time to update our decorations.
She and my dad went to our local Christmas tree lot, picked out a tall misshapen tree, and had it flocked. Spray-on flocking was quite the rage in the mid-60’s. (At least they stuck with white “snow” rather than opting for the very trendy blue, lavender or pink.) Hauled home in our pick-up, the tree went into our high-ceilinged living room. There it was spotlighted with a floodlight. Finally, gold balls were nestled in the fluffy white branches—tiny ornaments at the very top, giant shiny spheres on the sturdy branches at the base. I’m sure the tree was beautiful, with its avant-garde shape and mono-thematic decorations. I, for one, hated it.
The Christmas decorations have been up in the stores for months, ads are playing on TV, and a suffocating feeling of being overwhelmed is beginning to engulf me. I feel like Scrooge. It’s not that I’m against Christmas—far from it—but I’m very much fed up with the commercialized substitute our culture feeds us. It makes me want to crawl under a rock and stay there until January.
Every year I rebel against spending money we don’t have, baking things I shouldn’t eat, and the self-imposed pressure to decorate the house—knowing I’ll have to put it all away again a few weeks later. Yet I eventually find myself doing all those things anyway.
Life was hard. Even though we were blessed in many ways, life was hard. The year was 2002. Pete was working overtime, and had been for ages, but he hadn’t been paid in months (this comes with the territory, when you have a non-profit ministry). We had just moved my elderly dad from his dream home in Mendocino, California to Colorado Springs. I had done much of the packing and unpacking. Now he was having medical issues that required an enormous amount of my time and attention.
I was in transition from full-time mom to empty-nester. I was feeling worthless, at a loss without a well-defined role to tell me who I was. We desperately needed money, but I couldn’t get a normal job because of my responsibilities in caring for my dad.
Looking back now, it doesn’t seem that bad (or I’ve grown since), but at the time, between the financial stress, the stress dealing with my dad’s medical issues, my lack of purpose, and the stress on our marriage, I was seriously struggling.
It’s when we’re feeling miserable that God is most able to get our attention. I was writing volumes in my journal, crying out to God, asking Him for direction, for encouragement—pretty much asking for anything from Him, just so I could know He was aware of me. All I got was silence. I’d never been stretched so thin.