I had to laugh the other day when a friend recounted to me one of the headlines from the Christian satire website, The Babylon Bee: “Media Warns Excessive Forgiveness Could Set Back Outrage …
I had to laugh the other day when a friend recounted to me one of the headlines from the Christian satire website, The Babylon Bee: “Media Warns Excessive Forgiveness Could Set Back Outrage Narrative Hundreds of Years.” It’s funny because it seems that everywhere we turn today, outrage and anger are expressed in emotional bursts and heated scorn of others. In fact, many voices of outrage seem to feel that the rest of us have a moral obligation to join them in it.
There is no doubt that many things we see in our world are grievous evils and need to be rectified. But outrage is counterproductive to the welfare of people and society. It separates people, stereotypes people, polarizes sides and instills a win-at-all-cost attitude. It stifles reasoned dialogue, overly simplifies complex problems and fans the flames of retaliation. Outrage almost always produces negative consequences, like hatred and dissension.
Little wonder, then, that the Bible lists outrage as the product of a prideful, ungrateful, selfish heart (see Galatians 5:20). How much better would it be if those who follow Jesus Christ would, instead of imitating the world, adopt his manner of love, forgiveness and truth?
The central message that Jesus proclaimed was that the rule of God has invaded our world and is available to anyone who wants it. The product of surrendering to God’s reign in Jesus Christ is that God’s love is poured into our hearts so that we can truly love others. In fact, Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and strength. And the consequence of loving God above everything else is that we love other people as much as we love ourselves.
But Jesus didn’t just teach that we are to love those who like us or those whom we like. Jesus said that Christians are supposed to love even their enemies! That kind of love only comes when we allow him to rule over us and grow that kind of love in us.
C.S. Lewis writes that love in the Christian sense is not an emotion: “It is a state, not of the feelings but of the will; the state of the will that we naturally have about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.” More than an emotion, love seeks the best interests of those around us. Love forgives. Love listens. Love seeks what’s best for others.
How great would it be if those who follow Jesus Christ could, rather than mimicking the tactics of the world around us, mimic the love he demonstrated when he poured out his life on the cross, paid the debt of our sin and opened the way to new life that brings hope and peace? If we follow the Prince of Peace, maybe he will set back the “outrage narrative” around us.
(David Pool is the senior pastor at Grace Point.)