10 May 2015

Tantrums or Joe Cool?

There’s often a point in each day when we must make a conscious choice to respond in a Christian* manner. 

Yesterday, my moment was when a tenant in the building I oversee managed to set off the fire alarm during the course of ripping up old carpet, during renovations. The dust was sufficient to trigger the alarm, which meant:
  • The fire department was dispatched, 
  • The magnetic fire doors throughout the building all closed, and
  • The dampers in the air handling systems (there are two) all closed, and the ventilation systems shut down.
The alarm company had to be notified to take the alarm out of service, afterward, so it wouldn’t happen again. I had to call for an HVAC technician to respond and ensure that the air handlers were back on line, and that all the dampers had reopened; every so often, you see, a couple will stick in the closed position, and then the affected spaces will overheat. The back pressure from an air volume designed to have a certain number of outlets will build – and get quite loud – in all the other spaces when the number of outlets is reduced.

Fortunately, one of the tenants was on-site and volunteered to open the fire doors (or at least the ones which close the elevators), saving me an hour of driving and aggravation. Now, I could get angry at the tenant who neglected to inform me of the weekend project, but that wouldn’t accomplish much, if anything. I will visit with the manager in question, and let her know what happened – and how expensive it could conceivably be for her company, if any financial charges eventuate because of the incident. But I won’t get angry, as it would solve nothing.

However, that’s not my point.

The point is that many of us want to, or think we should, suppress normal human emotions in a situation like this (“oh, that’s not a Christian thing to do”), or lose our tempers, alienating others and destroying any evidence of our Christianity in their eyes.

The Bible says a couple of things about this; you just knew that it would, didn’t you?

First of all, the Bible does not say “don’t get angry”. That wouldn’t be realistic; God gave us our emotions, and He knows what's in our hearts. It says, “In your anger, do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26) That’s a different matter entirely.

Many people have gotten the impression that Christians are to take whatever life throws at them, regardless, without lifting a finger in self-defense. This is just wrong. The admonition to “turn the other cheek” is in the context of “don’t seek revenge.”  The whole passage reads:

"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”  (Matthew 5:38-40)

See, Jesus told His followers, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (Matthew 10:16) Why would we need to be as ‘cunning as a snake’ if we are to lie down & let life walk on us?

I believe that we are to take whatever persecution the world dishes out for Jesus’ sake without complaint, just as He did. But you’re all familiar by now with His instructions to the disciples to arm themselves, as He knew that times of persecution for His followers were upon them:
And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment." (Luke 22:35-37)

Frankly, I’d have a LOT of trouble with a passage that said, “Lay down and let those who hate me hack you to pieces.” But that’s not what He said.

Again, this is NOT about seeking revenge. It’s about being wise, and protecting you from others, or from yourself, if necessary. Don’t let your emotions overrule your common sense. Don’t let your indignation at a problem make you lose sight of the solution.

Don’t provoke anyone to anger, and don’t try to “get even”. Or, as a poster popular in the ‘70s read:
“Lose Not Thy Cooleth”

Good advice, then and now.

* Please note that I do not mean “like you see in church.” Heaven help us if we act like many we've seen in a church setting. I refer to those who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who strive to do as He taught because that’s what He said to do. In other words, act like Him.


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Words to live by; not that it is easy.

Ed Bonderenka said...

And if they smite you on the cheek, expose the other one.

Old NFO said...

Concur with both of the above... And NOTHING says we cannot defend ourselves.

Rev. Paul said...

Agreed with all.