When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. –Matthew 28:31
As a vegetarian, I was thrilled when Burger King unveiled the Impossible Burger. It’s so good, and tastes just like meat.
That is not what this devotion is about. This is about the feeling I had when I went to get one this weekend, and was told that they were out.
I was outraged. How hard can it be to keep their menu items in stock? Why wasn’t the woman behind the counter more sympathetic with my plight? You’ll be happy to know I didn’t dress her down–it wasn’t her fault, after all.
That wasn’t my only brush with outrage this week. I have a news app on my phone that shows some 50 headlines from a variety of sources. I scrolled down, reading about impeachment, racism, and another shooting.
Outrage, outrage, outrage.
In fact, most of the headlines activated some level of outrage in me, enough so that I began to wonder if outrage has become my most developed sense. Not only me — I see outrage everywhere I look. I see it on the left and on the right.
I was kind of surprised to find the word “outrage”, or a form of it, popping up in scripture. The best example, from Matthew, is a story Jesus tells about a debt-ridden man who begs for his freedom and is granted it. Then, he promptly demands the repayment of someone who owes him, and shows no grace or patience.
Matthew says that the man’s fellow servants were “outraged” when they saw his hypocritical actions, and they told their master about it. Things didn’t end well for him.
I get that outrage can produce results, but it also presents a problem in today’s world. We have SO MUCH outrage in our society, and can find justification for just about any of it, no matter what side of polarizing issues we may find yourself. Is it healthy?
Is it God’s desire that you and I barrel through life fueled by righteous anger? Is that the best humanity has to offer — a plague of complaining? Is outrage the path that will lead us to God’s Kingdom?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think this is the epitome of human development. At the same time, there are lots of things in this world that seem offensive, immoral, even unconscionable. How do we possibly deal with all that, especially when two people sitting together in the same pew can be outraged about opposite things?
Here are four thoughts that come to me:
- Like the other servants in the story, we can bring our concerns to our Master, God, understanding that we may not be able to fix every problem in the world, but we are not alone.
- Sometimes there are powerful reasons for feeling outrage. Instead of just stewing in our angry juices, there is a time for marching, calling congress members, writing letters, and more.
- There is a chance that our outrage only shows us half the story. Listening and learning may confirm or deflate these strong emotions.
- Perhaps the only way for polarized groups of people to find some common ground is to cultivate relationships with people who aren’t, on the surface, like us.
Outrage is a powerful emotion, but it’s also a seductive one. If the only way we see much of the world is through rage-tinted glasses, we will miss out on the beautiful — albeit complex — creation God has gifted us. God can show us a better way.
After all, with God…
even an Impossible burger is still Possible.
Have a great week,