By Chuck Griffin
Holston WCA Chair
In my last reflection, I spoke about the anger orthodox Methodists sometimes feel when we consider how the authority of Scripture, a traditional feature of the movement, is suddenly being downgraded by leaders in the United Methodist Church.
It is important that we quickly move beyond anger. As scriptural people, we should first look to the Bible for help.
Search the term “anger” in the Old and New Testaments; you’ll see it’s a common topic. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns the kind of anger that causes us to lash out. We also know, however, that even Jesus could feel angry when he saw the will of God misinterpreted or the sanctity of God ignored.
For me, Ephesians 4:25-27 best captures the general tone of the Bible regarding anger. “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” Written in the context of a holy, righteous life, these words acknowledge we sometimes get angry—hopefully, for the right reasons—but remind us that anger should never be a consuming emotion.
One document we passed at the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s Global Legislative Assembly helps us see the antidote to anger, describing behaviors of openness the orthodox Methodist community needs to retain.
Entitled “Statement Offering Radical Hospitality and Genuine Community,” it is so short and to-the-point I can quote it in full here:
“We long for and are working for a church that offers radical hospitality and genuine community to all persons. While we affirm the orthodox, biblical view of sexuality and gender, we also welcome all persons to the redemptive grace of Jesus. We are committed to being a place of refuge and community for all who experience brokenness.”
This is a call to revive historic Methodism at its best. There was a time when we were a communal movement of broken people looking to the Bible for divine revelation and guidance.
Yes, when we look to Scripture, our brokenness becomes painfully obvious. Paul, quoting the 14th Psalm, writes in Romans 3:10, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” Scripture also tells us, however, that in every circumstance there is the possibility of hope and healing. We hear the story of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lifts us out of the mire.
I can be healed, you can be healed, any person we may encounter can be healed—no one is beyond the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ. Our savior died for all sins, and hurting people need to hear this truth.
The antidote to anger is simple: Shake it off and get back to the positive, life-affirming work of the church. Tell the story we all love again and again.