In-Sight: Mad as Heaven

[Note: with this blog, I am reviving the “In-Sight” category, one designed to look at the spiritual life in a broad sense and through a variety of lenses.  Spirituality is reality, and spiritual formation influences every area of our lives.]

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Once in a while someone will say, “I am mad as hell,” and they go on to say what they are mad about.  Most of the time it is about something legitimate–something which anyone could be mad about.  To be “mad as hell” is generally not about being enraged, but rather about being deeply troubled.

When this is the case, I get it.  And I would go so far as to agree there is plenty to be “mad as hell” about these days.  But even with that, I believe we must not stop there.  God calls us to something else, to something more.

God calls us to be “mad as heaven.”  That is, God calls us not to get stuck in negativism and criticism, but rather to move on to resistance.  God calls us to move beyond emotion to engagement. Seeing and naming what’s wrong is important, but it is not enough.  We must move onto working for what is right.  And in biblical language that is the Kingdom of God.  To be “mad as heaven” is to live congruently with the virtues of the Kingdom if God and to work actively to construct it wherever and however we can

The Kingdom of God, we are told, is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).  The kingdom of God recognizes unrighteousness, turmoil, and sadness–it is never naive or pollyanna.  But it does not stop with recognition. The kingdom of God moves into acts of renewal and restoration– what the Bible calls “overcoming evil with good” (Romans 12:21).  This is what we say we are every time we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done–on earth as it is in heaven.”. And every time we pray these words, it is intended to be another moment when we re-up to be instruments of God’s peace (e.g. Romans 12:1-2).

I have sympathy for folks who are “mad as hell” about certain things.  But I am convinced that what God is looking for these days are people who are “mad as heaven” about the things that are going on which should not be.  I am praying for grace to be “mad as heaven.”

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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