I’m not a Philadelphia Flyers hockey fan. In fact, I’m not a hockey fan, but if I were I certainly wouldn’t pull for the Flyers.
You see, they have a 44-year-long Stanley Cup drought (take heart Falcons fans). So, in order to give their fans a place to take out their frustrations, the Flyers have added a Rage Room at the Wells Fargo Center. In that room the fans can smash everyday objects with hockey sticks, bats, and sledgehammers. Some of the objects for breaking “might even bear the logo of the opposing team.”
That’s a bad idea.
That’s like pouring kerosene on a fire.
There is acceptable anger and unacceptable anger. Temper tantrums are not a good idea. So, here’s a sermon for you.
Getting a sermon from me might, in fact, make you angry but here goes. It’s not a 40 minute raging, yelling, spitting kind of sermon. It’s just a few words that might help.
(1) Anger is unacceptable when…it is reckless and out of control. “The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
I went to seminary with a guy who I thought had no pulse. I don’t remember his name but I think it was “death warmed over.” I often wondered if he died on campus how would we know. He showed no sign of life. He moved like a snail. His handshake was like a wet fish. He was expressionless. He seemed to be on life support when I would talk to him in the dorm lobby.
One day I asked him to play golf. Was I in for a rude awakening? He had apparently played the game well before but not this day. So, he began to throw his clubs, slam them into trees and utter four letter words that would make a rap song blush. I was glad to see that the old boy had some life in him. He had at least some passion, though he expressed it inappropriately.
What happens when the golf club becomes a fist and the ground you are pounding becomes your spouse or child? When anger is out of control, the explosion hits those we love the most.
(2) Anger becomes unacceptable when…it is destructive, not constructive. Destructive anger has no limits. Everything and everyone in its way can be destroyed. Flailing away at people and things, taking cheap-shots at designated opponents and wreaking havoc at institutions comes with a high price. Angry people ultimately find themselves destroyed.
Miranda Lambert had a song called “Kerosene.” Some of the lyrics go like this:
“Forget your high society, I’m soaking it in Kerosene. Light em up and watch them burn, teach them what they need to learn. Dirty hands ain’t made for shakin’, ain’t a rule that ain’t worth breakin’. Well, I’m givin’ up on love cause love’s given up on me.”
Remember when Jesus got angry and threw the money changers out of the temple? He let them know he was mad, but his intent was not destruction, but rather a cleansing of the temple. Timothy McVeigh got angry at the government and decided to destroy a government building and kill the people inside it in Oklahoma City. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) are mad too, because a drunk driver killed a loved one. Their anger, however, is not destructive, but constructive.
(3) Anger becomes unacceptable when…it alienates instead of reconciles. In the Jewish mind sunset marked the beginning of a new day. Thus the writer of Ephesians counsels his readers to deal with anger before the sun goes down. I love how the late Phyllis Diller put it, “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” If you have anger before bedtime, then you need to have reconciliation before the day is done.
When we are angry we typically either want to stalk off and sulk or strike out at others. Inappropriate anger alienates. The words said in anger and the things we do out of anger build a wall between us and usually, those we love the most. We find ourselves at odds with the very people who mean the most to us.
So, that’s the sermon. Hope it helps you stay away from the Rage Room.