It seems as though every week there is either outrage towards Christians, Christians outraging against the world or Christians outraging against other Christians. Our culture is inundated with deep polarisation and tribalism. What is even more alarming is how easy it is for Christians to be sucked in. It has become so easy to garner our attention. A recent example of this was Lil Nas X’s latest song, which successfully betted on Christian outrage as an obvious marketing ploy and now the song sits #1 on all the charts. Nothing seems to bring Christians together more than collective outrage. We seem to do the exact opposite of warning in James 1:19, we are quick to anger and refuse to listen. Social media outrage is often intentionally and carefully manufactured to achieve to a maximum number of viewers. As a writer myself I know this all too well, I often do the same thing with my pieces. So how then should we navigate this outrage culture we find ourselves in?
Not everything deserves your attention
Christians love outrage and it is slowly but surely destroying us. I should start by saying there are absolutely times called for outrage and indignation. Believe me, I know. The world is desperately broken and thus there are things that ought to stir up anger within us. When we witness the injustice and suffering in the world, the nature and character of God mangled- we should be outraged. There are plenty of reasons for Christians to have righteous anger. Jesus in Mark 10 himself shows us as much when he was filled with righteous indignation and flipped tables over in the temple. However, His anger was righteous, good and holy.
We should never in the name of being tolerant or meek, be apathetic in the face of evil and injustice. In some instances, we need to be angry, our faith demands it. However, it’s not every time. If we are outraged by every little thing and our attention is so easily captured, we will inadvertently lose the ability to decipher what the most important issues are. As Tim Challies says, “when we respond with outrage to every little offence, eventually we become hardened to the things that actually matter. If everything is outrageous, nothing is outrageous.“
Stop being suprised by the World
It baffles me when Christians are surprised by the fact that sinful people act like….wait for it…sinful people! It seems as though we are quick to forget that we live in a sin-stained world where sinners will behave like sinners. We ought to remember that we have a different citizenship to the world. This is not our home and we are simply pilgrims passing through. Because of this, we have to acknowledge that the world simply has a different value system than we do. In a society that desperately wants to believe humans are perfect, Christians don’t have a romanticised view of humanity in such that we are shocked by the news of immorality, injustice and corruption. We know the truth. That the heart of man is deceptively wicked.
What set Jesus apart from all other religious leaders at the time was that he didn’t recoil when he witnessed the sinfulness of man (John 8:7). Christians will forever be outraged if we continue to expect celebrities to behave like deacons and elders. Jesus was never panicked when He saw sin, for He knew people. He never blamed the lost for acting like the lost. What He didn’t like was those who acted hypocritically and morally superior, and He found more of this in religious people than lost ones. Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the Church? What we mustn’t do as is often the case, is to condemn and accuse them, but instead, like Jesus, endeavour for the lost to be saved.
An opportunity to witness
Very few people have been debated into life-change. Many have been loved into it. In a world that is already so divisive, tribalistic and polarised, how we respond to things matter. Where outrage culture is the mantra of the day, we must resist the urge to respond in a similar manner. Jesus, when hung on the Cross prayed for the forgiveness of His murderers. When people in the world are mistreated, we can expect them to react with hostility. As a believer, our response ought to be different. Even those who mock, degrade and hate us should be treated with dignity, love and respect. Our culture thrives by pitting people against each other, we mustn’t fall for the same trick but instead love people better than the world does. We ought to see the outrage in the world as a mission field. We shouldn’t shrink back in fear, or be lead by rage. Instead, by faith, step out to bring the healing message of Jesus to a broken and hurting world.