No, not them.
It’s not your political opposites. It’s not the liberals or the conservatives. It’s not the leftist or the trumpists or whoever else.
Analyze the last four years and ask, Who has actually won?
In the terms of this world, who is actually winning?
Is not Republicans who are now divided and angry at each other and have lost power.
It is not Democrats who have the slightest margin of power and exist in a coalition with the far left that could shatter in any moment.
It is not the common person who has been isolated and sick, who have lost jobs and felt the weight of government efforts to end this disease which does not want to be stopped.
The only people who have won are the richest and most powerful people. Companies have made so much money in their offshore accounts that when we can think of them almost like Scrooge McDuck diving in head first swimming around in cash.
Think of the symbol of the news yesterday: the most expensive house ever built in the United States was finished.
The cost? Between 350 and 500 million dollars. The house has everything you could possibly imagine and then some.
And it will find a buyer for sure. The richest people in America are richer today than they were by far at the beginning of 2020. Every penny that went into paying for rent, paying for toilet paper at Walmart, paying for every single thing needed just to survive for you and me went into the bank accounts of the very richest people in America. Because of their wealth, they were able to protect themselves from this disease and ensure that they had appropriate health care when they needed it. While we are contributing to GoFundMe accounts just to pay medical bills, billionaires scraping for every single penny of more wealth have enjoyed their opulent lifestyles and benefited as our nation raged against itself.
Truly we live in a time that the psalmist talked about in Psalm 73:
4 They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5 They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
and clothe themselves with cruelty.
7 These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!
Why do they win? Because they benefit from our division.
The only people winning right now are those who benefit from conflict. Those who benefit from dividing America and inciting hatred. Those who win no matter who fights, provided that they fight.
The Media and the Warmongers
Certain businesses are designed to benefit from wars with weapons no matter who fights. Such are the businesses Eisenhower warned about when he decried the military industrial complex. Businesses who build bombs, bullets, guns, and tanks. They are the businesses whose stocks shoot up whenever war breaks out anywhere in the world.
There is a new and pernicious conglomerate of businesses who benefit when the American people make war on themselves with words. These businesses exist only to create divide and incite a hatred. They don’t care about the fallout and they certainly don’t have the good of you or me in mind.
A few examples:
- Media companies who exist solely for you to continue watching them. Their goal is to keep you glued to the news station. Can you imagine how bored you could be watching the news if nobody died or there were no protests or no fighting in the streets? Can you imagine how quickly you would turn off the television if it was just to reports about butterfly mating or crop rotations? The news media requires your attention, and in order to keep your attention they will inflame your passions and the passions of those who make decisions so that we stay divided as a nation. If you do not watch then they do not make money. If you don’t fight, there’s nothing to see.
- Social media companies make money off of the advertising that they can sell. One of their major sources of revenue over the last few years has been political advertising. Billions of dollars were spent on the election in 2020 and a good deal of that was spent on social media. Why is it so effective? Because social media can target an audience more sharply than any other form of media. While anyone can click on a television station anywhere in the United States, only Facebook can sell advertising space that is targeted to 25-year-old women with two children who live in a certain city and have mentioned certain things on their timeline. Twitter’s stock fell 10% after it banned Trump. That is billions of dollars of value lost from a company because the stock market recognizes that without his voice they will not be able to keep up selling the amount of political advertising to people that they need to in order to make money.
- Companies which benefit from political muck. The largest companies in the United States pay zero taxes. How do they do that? Most of them register a separate company in a country that has no income taxes. Then they put enough of their assets, such as their intellectual property, into those companies so that when their American company makes money, the offshore company sends a bill for an equivalent amount of that profit. Voila! The American company shows no profits and therefore pays no taxes. Meanwhile billions and billions of dollars sit around and bank accounts in other countries, untouched. Changing this will require a significant amount of political will. As it stands, the deeply divided country lacks a political will to do anything to mitigate the massive expansion of monopolies and these tax avoiding companies. Our political system was designed to work most slowly when the country was most divided so that people would have to compromise. Since we are not compromising, since people are hating each other, our country has ground to a halt. The status quo prevails. Who benefits? Ask that question and then look at the stock returns from this year. As the common man was mired in the difficulties of covid, America’s billionaires gained money at a rate faster than any other time in American history.
Stop Being Used
Your anger only helps people who benefit from your anger. Your anger does not help you. Your panic over another politician leading our country does not help you. Your anger will fester inside like Cain’s anger: It will crouch at the door ready to consume you. The Lord says to Cain, “You must rule over it" Anger is waiting there for you to sin. Anger wants you to sin. It want you to be devoured from within. Rule it and master it before it destroys you.
Instead of letting it destroy you, look to the causes. Why are you angry? What causes the fights you are having right now?
James asks and answers this question in a very very direct way in James 4:
1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?
The only way that we overcome our anger and our fighting when there are so many forces urging us to anger is to abandon our earthly schemes and desires. We have to let go of our jealousy. We have to admit that winning in this world will not accomplish anything for our souls or for the good of those that we love. There is no answer for anger except for letting go of our own desires.
Letting go of those desires requires that we shut out the warmongers. We have to ignore the voices that tell us to hate or be angry. We have to recognize that their anger and indignation is a fruit of their worldly desires for money and for fame. How else can we explain the constant urge to be angry and to do something but the lack of leadership from those same voices that tell us to be angry and do something? Not one single political commentator was at the rallies at the capitol. No political commentators led the protests or the riots over the summer. All these inflamming voices want is for you to keep watching them and to give them money. Every single one of them has something to sell you: outrage. Their anger is built on greed and they want you to feel anger so that they get money and power.
Stop being used.
Consider the life of Jesus. He had no money, no earthly power, no home, no mortgage, no donkey, and barely enough clothes to keep himself warm. He gave up all earthly desires and all earthly schemes. He explicitly rejected all of those when the devil offered them to him. He said that his kingdom was not of this world.
The life of Jesus is not just something to watch and be interesting. The life of Jesus is the only way for the Christian to live if we want to abandon our anger. We have to give up our earthly schemes.
You know Jesus had the opportunity to “speak truth to power” when he faced Pilate. But he was totally silent.
And when the apostle Paul was before a king, all he could do was share the good news of Jesus and how his life had changed because of Jesus.
Jesus could not be used because he had no desires that could be manipulated. He was free of anger. His only anger was towards sin but even then he realized that there was no earthly scheme that could get rid of sin. Nothing that we do on Earth will stop sin. The only scheme that could work was for him to take sin on himself to the cross.
When Jesus taught his disciples to “take up your cross daily and follow after me,” He was not telling them to die for an earthly plan. He was telling him to take up self abandonment in order to achieve the ends that God has set out. God gives us our goals but he also gives us the ways that we ought to achieve our goals, and they are his ways and not our ways. Our anger can never bring in the kingdom of heaven and our politics will never get Jesus on the throne. The Bible teaches us that he is already seated on the throne. It’s his and no one can take it.
Some Practical Applications
- Turn off the news media unless there is something that you can do about the news. If you aren’t actively writing letters to your politicians, if you don’t work in politics, if it isn’t election season, why do you watch? Why do you let yourself become angry?
- Confront your anger. Acknowledge that you are angry and Confess that sin to God. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Confess and repent.
- Recognize where your anger has harmed your relationships with other people or yourself. Do the hard work of asking people how you have hurt them. Ask for forgiveness.
- Resolve never to divide your family or your church at the whims of a politician or a company or a political party.
- Consider whatever you are trying to achieve in life and ask if it matches up with what God describes in the Bible. Do you wish you had more power? Do you wish you had more money? How are you going about doing these things? Examine your heart’s desires and see if your desires created the anger that overcame you.
- Get off social media unless it is edifying to you or if you can engage peacefully. If your social media feed is just things that anger you, then block the people who are posting things that anger you or just get off.
- Feed yourself with the Word first everyday. If we rush to the news or to social media before we rush to the Word of God, we will get wrapped up in the things of the day before we get wrapped up in the things of God. I have stumbled in this too frequently myself and when I have been a fool it is because I have cared more for the foolish things in the world rather than for the things of God.
- Recognize that we cannot fix other people according to our own power or wisdom. No matter how much we may think that our actions are justified because of the evil that we see in the world, we will not be able to fix our problems by thinking that we can somehow change things by our own power. There have always been poor. There has always been abortion. There has always been injustice, graft, greed, anger, war, inequality, inefficiency, sickness, murder, looting, theft, and death. We cannot solve any of these problems through men’s power. We can mitigate the effects of these sins by good policy but we will never eradicate them. We must understand the limitations of our own power and government power from the outset or we will lose our minds as we have.
- If you care deeply about politics, get involved. There are lots of good policies you can pursue, even if you cannot permanently fix the world. We arrive for justice even knowing we will never achieve it. If you care deeply about politics but do not get involved, then find a way to stop caring so deeply about politics. There is no middle ground here. You cannot care deeply about something to the point of anger or frustration over and over again without doing something. That’s the equivalent of being a football fan and it reduces your opinions about politics to the level of opinions about football. It turns politics into entertainment.
- Educate yourself about the nature of who is actually control and who is stoking the fire and fanning the flames of hatred. Who has won over the last year? It is not Republicans or Democrats. It is not liberals or conservatives. It is people who have made millions and billions of dollars while most Americans have suffered. Those are the individuals who win in these days and our anger only helps them. Look at the products that they sell and consider pulling back. Whether those products are media or actual goods and services, question if you need them or if you can get them from somewhere else.
Above all, put on Christ
Here’s how the Psalmist deals with his Anger in Psalm 73:
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
And here is what James says about our quarrels and fights in James 4:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
We cannot defeat evil with evil. We cannot overwhelm anger with anger. The way of Christ is the only way
As Paul says in Romans 13, instead of anger and jealousy:
clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh