Righteous Indignation

Sep 09th 2009

Seth Godin’s blog got me thinking about this topic today.  Here is what he had to say…

Righteous indignation

This is a default response for many people–irked customers, angry bosses, disappointed colleagues. It’s easy to go into high dudgeon (in fact, low dudgeon isn’t even in the dictionary, it’s always ‘high’). The thing is: it doesn’t work. It rarely succeeds in accomplishing much, and it makes you unhappy at the same time.  What if you took it out of your toolbox of responses?  What if, just like becoming a cannibal or painting your face green, you eliminated righteous indignation as an option in your list of responses to various situations, no matter how unfair? What if the people you work with weren’t permitted to indulge? Just think of how much more you’d get done and how much calmer everything would be.

In October we are going to start a teaching series at Calvary called, “unChristian: confessions of a recovering church. As I’ve been preparing for this series I’m pondering what the world – especially the next generation — thinks about Christians.  I wonder how often “righteous indignation” comes to mind?  What if Jesus-followers simply eliminated “righteous indignation” from our list of possible responses to people, issues, and culture?

Now for those of us who are good at “righteous indignation” I know the picture/passage that immediately comes to mind — yes I’ve practiced righteous indignation in my day.  You’re thinking what about Jesus in the temple, kicking out the money-changers, cleaning up the temple.   Here is the difference that occurs to me, I think for Jesus, his indignation was aimed at those who thought they were righteous, but didn’t care about people.  But I wonder how often our “righteous indignation” comes from our own sense of self-righteousness and it’s directed toward people that God cares about.

I don’t know, maybe there’s a place for righteous indignation.  I think I would rather be known for humble compassion.  Maybe there are times when it’s okay, or even good for a Jesus follower to get angry.  But Jesus never said that we should be known for our anger.