The Spiritual Discipline of Outcry

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

I am really good at being outraged.

It really doesn't take much for any of us, does it? Political rants, racist and sexist language, legalistic interpretations of Bible passages, ignorance, bullying, Netflix series spoilers...

Our responses sound something like this: "Can you believe this?! I'm shocked that someone like him would say that. She's crazy! What kind of world are we living in? Who even thinks that way anymore? Why on earth did they feel the need to reveal that surprise twist ending?!"

Our church gatherings, work meetings, gym teams, small groups, dinner tables, and social media feeds are brimming with no shortage of things that can easily anger us. As I've found myself in a pattern of becoming outraged, I'm learning that while outrage sometimes has its place, it is no substitute for genuine outcry.

You see, when I'm outraged, I'm directing my anger at something or someone external to me. When I'm outraged, it's someone else's fault. It's the Democrats, it's the Republicans, it's the president, it's the people who live in the South, it's my neighbor, it's the immigrant, it's my sibling, it's that church, it's those Christians, it's the atheists.

Outrage says it's them, them, them.

When I'm outraged, I can easily slip into self-righteousness. Trust me - it's one of my unspiritual gifts.

But when I trade outrage in for outcry, I realize that the sin also resides within myself. Outcry says it's also me, me, me.

Sin and injustice present in the world around me should prompt me to examine my own heart. How have I been unaware of the sin that lurks hidden within me? How am I contributing to these thoughts, words, and actions in my culture? How am I culpable for these wrongs being committed? How can I raise an outcry and repent of my sin?

Outrage is a a gut-reaction, but outcry is a spiritual discipline.

When I humbly examine my heart and respond with outcry, when I respond with lament, I recognize the need for God to perfect his work in me. It's not just them; it's also me. 

I'm prejudice. I'm divisive. I'm judgmental. I'm close-minded. I'm hateful. I'm defensive.

I can't change the Republicans or Democrats or the president or those Christians. But I can open myself up God's Spirit so that he can change me.

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