Is there such a thing as righteous indignation? Are any of us allowed to express anger and take strong actions because we feel that it is justified? Do we get a pass for misbehaving?
I wonder about a lot of things, especially the ones that don’t make immediate sense to me.
Many people in this world know about Jesus, whether they are Christians who believe he is the son of God or others who feel he was a spiritual prophet who lived a very human existence.
There is a story in the Bible about when Jesus reacted with anger and overturned the moneychangers’ tables and cast them out of the temple. Each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell this story. They all seem to agree that the actions Jesus took were justified. That he was cleansing the temple, the house of God.
But here’s what troubles me.
It is so out of character for him. He ate with people that others considered to be sinners, he healed folks who were thought to be unclean, and he spoke with many who were outcasts of society. He feed the poor and preached about love, not just for the lovable, but for all.
I have to ask myself, is this story in keeping with the heart of Jesus’s teachings?
Wouldn’t his love have extended even to the moneychangers? Wouldn’t he have sat with them and brought wisdom to them, teaching them, and leading them into the light? Certainly, he had the insight to see within them and know what words to say, so that they could understand how what they were doing was harmful.
I offer you a disclaimer.
I do not believe that the Bible records every event exactly as it happened. There are numerous discrepancies when comparing the accounts of the four gospels and beyond that, when comparing different Bible versions and the languages and translations.
It seems to me we are prompted to go within to find our own truth.
I believe in following the essence of Jesus. In my heart I believe he would have turned up the love. He would have led the animals out into the courtyard, then returned to sit with the moneychangers. He would have shown love and drawn love out of them, changing their hearts in the process.
There would have been no need to apologize for turning over their tables and scattering their coins on the floor because he would have taken a more loving approach.
Of course, it is up to you to decide what you feel happened and you may be wondering what does this have to do with you?
In my mind, quite a lot.
For me, I wonder if I am ever justified in my anger. Can I behave in any manner, without concern for my actions, because I feel I have been wronged? Is there any such thing as righteous indignation?
It seems like a sort of carte blanche, where we allow ourselves to do whatever we want, with no consideration for the effect on anyone else.
The thing is, there is always an effect from the actions we take.
And it matters.
So, what is the takeaway when considering this story?
As always, it is up to each of us to decide.
What feels most right to me is that leading from love, not anger, is the way to live in this world. Sacrificing my anger and embracing a loving approach offers me the chance to connect with others. It builds up instead of tears down. It closes the distance between us. It opens our hearts and fills us. Choosing love always feels like the right decision.
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