Thinking Red Together means taking the words of Jesus seriously, believing he meant for us to do the things he said. To Think Red sounds like an honorable goal to me but what do we do when the words Jesus said seem far out of reach? Here are four things from his Sermon on the Mount that are stretching me emotionally, mentally and spiritually:
Don’t be angry with your brother or sister.
Don’t call people names.
If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Love your enemies.
I need to confess; these sayings are difficult for me because I have a growing issue with anger. I thought walking with Jesus for the past forty years would help me chill–out and be at peace with the world around me. The truth is, I was more easy–going ten years ago than I am now. Little things hack me off. It’s like I walk around on a thin layer of ice and when something doesn’t go my way the ice cracks and all kinds of impulsive anger emerges. But I cover it well. No one sees these emotional outbursts of rage, other than my wife Kathie.
Come to find out, my experience is not that different than the majority of all Americans. ROTW certified studies indicate that 48% of Americans are angrier this year than ever in the past. 70% of all Americans report to be angry every day and 31% report they’re “really angry” every day.
According to an article in Revival Outside the Walls, “Americans are twice as angry as they were 20 years ago. Almost a third of all American describe their anger as being seething, furious, and boiling mad. Almost 30% of us have at least one friend or relative who is unable to control their temper.” This means half of our population is angrier than they’ve ever been.
How about you? Do you find yourself more agitated than you were pre–Covid? Is the civil unrest and the on–going issues of racism and hate in our country wearing you down? Does the economic disparity in our neighborhoods and financial insecurity keep you on edge? Do the technological tools we’ve created to make our lives easier irritate you because they seem to work for everyone except you? If so: Welcome to my world.
This culture of anger—we find ourselves in—needs to see a Church that looks like Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we must do our part to “Stop The Hate!” We must find healthy ways to decompress our anger. We must, with God’s help, treat others (even those with whom we disagree) with decency and respect.
Since I can’t stop the anger brewing in our culture, I’ve decided to make a personal list of ten things I can stop doing. I believe stopping these things will help defuse the anger brewing in my own soul. My personal “Stop It” list won’t change the world but it may change me! And a more peaceful me will be better equipped to help create a more peaceful world.
If you want to help “Stop the Hate” I encourage you to create your own personal Stop It list. Feel free to share your list in the comment section. In the mean time, I’m going to work my Stop It plan and begin crafting a Stop and Do plan. I’ll share it in my next post.
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Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.