Volcanoes don’t start out as mountains. They begin as holes punched through the earth’s surface by steam and lava rising from deep within. Over time, the space around the hole grows higher and higher until a majestic mountain forms, like Mount Sinai.
Volcanoes are built by this process. It’s how they exist.
I mention this because volcanoes and humans have more in common than you may think. Like volcanoes, we’re built emotionally to let off steam, boil over, and occasionally erupt. Even born-again followers of Jesus have this inbuilt nature, with Jesus himself demonstrating it on occasion. Sometimes he steamed, sometimes he boiled over, and sometimes he ferociously erupted.
He expects us to do the same.
The traditional notion of “being Christian”, however, does not condone intense emotional displays. We’re taught to take it all with a smile, turn the other cheek, never get offended, and love our enemies. All of this can and should be done by the power of God’s Holy Spirit and needs to be our everyday playbook, almost without exception. But every now and then even God’s Spirit reaches his limit, and a simmering boil turns into a full-blown holy rage.
These blow-outs are not failures on our part. On the contrary, they’re what build, strengthen, and define us as Christians. God’s righteous anger forms the backbone of the Old Testament, and Jesus himself famously demonstrated righteous anger when he overturned the money-changers’ tables and whipped the offenders out of the temple. That spectacular emotional eruption still rumbles through the ages.
Humans have been made to let off steam and sometimes rise to a boil. As born-again Christians, we can call on God’s guidance to show us the appropriate level of response at any given time. But every once in a while the whole process gets thrown overboard, and before we know it, we’re in the midst of a major and unstoppable eruption.
God tells me he calls this “finding your spiritual balls”.
I’m thinking that most of you reading this know what I’m talking about. It’s like you’ve jumped onto train going full speed down the track, with no brakes in sight. Something takes over you, and you let ‘er rip.
It’s a wonder to behold!
I don’t believe you can be truly Christian until you’ve found your spiritual balls. The more “meek and mild” you are in dealing with the world and its atrocities, the more you need to occasionally erupt in a spectacular display. God didn’t make his children to be bent over in submission. He made us to stand tall. In fact, one of the first directives God gave me the day I was born-again was to stand up and look up.
I’ve been standing up and looking up ever since.
When we find our spiritual balls – that is, when we let God work through us in righteous anger – we become a formidable spiritual force of nature. Like a grizzly bear rearing up on its hind legs and roaring a warning to its adversary, we are our enemies’ worst nightmare. Volcanic eruptions are meant to invoke fear so that anyone in the area will flee; emotional eruptions by the power of God’s Holy Spirit are meant to invoke holy fear and bring spiritual correction.
Like Jesus, we need to allow God to work through us in righteous anger. It’s part of what it means to be Christian. In so doing, we become participants in God’s corrective justice, partnering with God through his Holy Spirit to bring restoration and healing.
We also get the chance to find our spiritual balls.
And when you’ve found them, you’d better hang onto them, because you’re going to need them for what’s coming.
Oh, that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!