Creating Light From Anger

In a recent TED Talk, a Palestinian man (Aziz Abu Sarah) and an Israeli man (Maoz Inon) sat down face to face and discussed creating peace amidst war, anger, and hate. Both men have reasons for anger and justifications for vengeance because they each have lost family members and friends over the decades. During the talk, Aziz compared anger to nuclear power, saying, “It can lead to destruction and it can create light.” However, can anger be a catalyst to create light?

            When talking about how you should live after putting on Christ in baptism, the Bible says in Ephesians 4:25-27, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” God is not naive. He created us with emotions. We’re going to experience anger sometimes but as a Child of God, we must not simply react in our anger or let it fester into hate. Those paths lead to retaliation and destruction. We must see past the anger and strive to create peace (Matthew 5:9).

            Mark 11:15-18 records a time when Jesus displays anger. As He visited the temple in Jerusalem, He became angry at the sight of money changers and merchants in the temples. Thus, He flipped their tables and drove them out. In Mark 11:16 He quotes Jeremiah 7:11 to them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’’’ Jesus was angry for two reasons:

  1. The temple was not being used as intended. It was supposed to be solely devoted to worship and prayer.
  2. There was the opportunity to rip off the poor who were trying to worship God. A Jewish person would typically sacrifice a male lamb, but if they could not afford one, they would sacrifice two doves or young pigeons instead (Lev. 14:21-22, Luke 2:22-24).

Jesus’ actions were not an act of random brutality or needless destruction. He channeled His anger because force was needed to protect the poor and create peace by restoring the temple to the sole devotion of prayer and worship to God. 

Toward the end of the conversation, Aziz said, “And my hope is that we continue to use anger as a way to bring people together, to ask ourselves, ‘What can I do to make things better?’” God was angry that sin had entered into His creation. However, He promised Noah that He would save the world and not destroy it because of sin. God created the ultimate source of light when He sent down His son to save and redeem us from sin (John 12:44-50). In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” By relying on Jesus and His teaching, everyone can use their anger to create light and make peace rather than to destroy and spread hate. God created can unite us all in His love, but only if we accept His free gift of grace and embrace His will.