A man named Gideon demolished an altar to Baal. As you can imagine Baal worshipers were not a huge fan of that action. People tend to take slights to their god very personally. Re-member what happen when the Ephesians accused Paul of making life difficult for their idol? They shouted for two hours straight (see Acts 19:34)! I imagine some people felt the same kind of way toward Gideon when Baal’s altar became a heap of junk. In fact, they were about to throw some rocks or launch some pointy things. But before they do Gideon’s dad comes to Gideon’s defense and says: “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar” (Judges 6:31). This satisfies the people, who figure Baal is going to get him anyway, so why bother with him now?
Of course, we know that Baal really is not a god. Gideon didn’t need to fear any giant divine goat looking thing hunting him down. But note this: the people didn’t know that. And because they thought Baal was really a god their rage subsided when they considered that Baal was better able to deal with Gideon than they were. And now I want you to think about a time when someone slighted your God. Not some false pagan god, I’m talking about the real God. The maker of heaven and earth. Think about the time when someone said something that didn’t sit well with you. Their statement contradicted scripture perhaps. Someone spoke of God with less reverence than what you know is due His name. The righteous anger begins to rise up. Ever happen to you? Did you really let this guy have it for his irreverent words or actions? Maybe. And I get it. Zeal for God’s house consumes the holy among us.
I would like to make one suggestion that I think can and should temper our anger. I suggest that you know that our God really is God. He can defend Himself. I mean, really. He really can defend Himself. Other than having the ability to create or obliterate universes with a word God also has legions of angels at His command. I think the most appropriate emotional reaction to those who speak against God isn’t anger. I think it’s pity. These people have no idea who they’re messing with. But they will. So I suggest pity. Anger is often based on fear—fear of losing what you think is true. But guess what? If you worship God as God you’re right, and you have nothing to worry about. So teach who you can and always encourage people toward the truth. And if someone doesn’t want to listen smile and move on. Our God—our real, alive, powerful God—can defend Himself.
Camden Avenue church of Christ