My name is Gavin, and I’m a recovering angry Christian.
I’ve been in recovery for quite some time. Like most addictions, it’s helpful to never believe you’re past the problem.
I bet you know plenty of angry Christians. I bet you are one from time to time.
Look inside most church services, and you’ll see them – Christians sitting in rows with fake smiles on their face. Ready with an, “I’m doing just great, how about you” answer for everyone who asks.
But these superficial answers don’t come close to telling the whole story.
Their lives are messy, but they don’t feel comfortable being honest. They struggle with relationships and marriage, but nobody can find out. They are frustrated in their job, but that must remain a family secret.
Side note: This is why adult church sports leagues are so much worse than any other league. All the pent-up anger is finally released on the umpire and the opposing team. I’ve seen some of the absolute worst behavior on the church softball fields. Yelling, cheating, name-calling, and even fighting. Don’t get me started on church basketball!
So why are Christians so angry?
I’m sure the list is quite long, but here are a few things I’ve had to release in my life. The first two are pretty basic, but the last one needs its own post one day.
Expectations are the birthing ground for frustrations. Living a life full of expectations will make anyone angry mostly because people will consistently underperform against your standard. I’ve lived with plenty of expectations of others, creating anger in me. And other’s expectations of me have kept me from experiencing God in me. If you want to release some anger and replace it with peace, try loving people rather than expecting people.
2. Maintaining an Image.
Again, similar to expectations, maintaining an image is exhausting and unChristian. If you are hiding behind an issue in your life, be honest, be open, and seek help. If your heart resists personal transparency, pay attention to that tension. Keeping up an image wears you down, and in your exhaustion, anger and frustration are your only outcomes.
3. Tension with Grey.
This one is a biggie! I believe it is the number one reason Christians seem so angry. This one splits churches. It can split families. And it can keep us majoring in the minors.
Here is the reality – within the Christian faith, there are only a few absolutes. Don’t post hateful comments just yet – hear me out. For some reason, we have made it our Christian duty to debate, argue, and bicker about every little nuance in Scripture. But in reality, interpretation, by definition, means there will be disagreements. People are going to see things differently. And, take a deep breath … that’s okay. I doubt any seminary or systematic theology professor would agree with me because it’s their job. But no single person outside of God himself has cornered the market on biblical interpretation.
Outside of monotheism, Jesus as God in a body, and Jesus’ death and resurrection, there isn’t much black and white. God is mysterious. Creation is mysterious. I can’t explain dinosaurs, and I don’t mind. It’s in the grey where Christians get so upset. When you believe there is a right and wrong doctrine or theology for EVERY issue, you are bound to end up angry. But when you learn to embrace the tension of uncertainty, life becomes full. And not necessarily sinful.
Hear me out. I’m NOT suggesting you stop interpreting. I am suggesting you lay aside “Bibleanity” for “CHRISTianity.” Christ’s primary command to followers is to love others as he first loved us. He didn’t argue anyone into faith, but loved us there at our pace. Can you imagine how our world would look if we could find a way to LOVE each other first, talk next, and debate last? All in love. All in empathy.
One last thought (for now). The slight upside is very few outsiders will ever see the silly, internal bickering between us. However, with social media and news stories, it’s hard to keep the ridiculous hidden for long. Non-believers probably don’t surf through churchleaders.com very often. Unfortunately, the absolutely terrible news is that as Christians, we have allowed our disagreements and bickering to be very public, political, and even targeted at the very people we are trying to reach. How insane is that? It’s too bad John isn’t around today to remind us of what he wrote in the first century:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
– John 13:34-35
Are you a recovering angry Christian? I’d love to know your thoughts. Why are Christians so angry? Let me know, and feel free to share this post so we can all learn together.