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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
My thesis is this: Living at the level of outrage is counterproductive to the authentic Christian life. If outrage drives your life, you will not be able to follow Jesus, you will more likely live in a constant state of frustration rather than peace and contentment.

I’ve noticed something about Christians lately. We live for the next outrage. We’re looking for a place to stand, a place to sink a stake in the ground, to show righteous indignation. To change the culture, change a person, change the world, and the so far the world has been resistant and Christians are frustrated.

The change we desire might be a political, social, or a moral cause, or even an individual heart, but more often our outrage is about something smaller. A movie. A book. What someone wore on a TV show. Lyrics to a song we find offensive. Someone cutting me off in traffic, even.

We become outraged because we care. Because we’re passionate. Because we want to make the world a better place. But at its core, our outrage has little to do with righteousness or justice and more to do with making the world like we want the world to be. In a sense, our outrage is not at the film director, the author of the book or the lyricist of the song, at the core, our outrage is at God himself for not doing things like we would have him do.

My outrage.

Usually what angers me most is what I see others do that I can’t stand in myself.

Outrage is easy. It comes naturally. Love is hard. I have to work at it.

Outrage is fear in respectable clothes. Outrage makes me feel better, like I’ve done something constructive. It feels like weeding life’s garden, but at its core it’s a visceral reaction that’s all about me and my desire to see things fall into place. I am outraged because life is messy and not neat like I want it.

As I wrote this, I was sitting at the front of a grocery store in a café with two baristas around the corner making caffeinated drinks for tired people. I was alone at a table in the corner with my laptop plugged into the wall.

A man approached and glanced my way. Then, moved into the line and finally returned with a drink and settled into a leather chair.

“Anybody say anything to you about being here?”

“No, should they have?”

“The other day I was here and the manager came back and told me I had to leave. She said I was loitering.” He held up his iced coffee. “This should buy me twenty minutes.”

The bile rose. Why would you have a café at the front if you didn’t want people to sit there? Why would they offer wifi? Quickly my mind wandered to the law. What are the rules for business establishments and people sitting in the same spot for extended periods?

This outraged me. How many times have I shopped here and bought hundreds of dollars worth of groceries? Why would a manager chase away paying customers?

So I prepared my speech for the manager. I was ready for her to come around the corner because my new friend said she was working the first register. Then, to make things more respectable, I bought a tall coffee, paid 1.95 to prove that I wasn’t just “loitering.”

And I waited.

I waited for her to see me, to find me, to accuse me. I waited for an altercation, all the while seething inside over times in the past when I had been similarly inconvenienced by someone insensitive to my needs. Like the guy at the repair shop who “fixed” my window the other day and charged me nearly $300. Only the window won’t roll down now. It’s stuck. I was outraged. I still am. I was outraged by his response when I called back to have them “fix” it again.

This happens every day, particularly on talk radio. Hosts fuel the sense of outrage by bringing up topics that inflame our sense of injustice. And we think that by having a strong opinion about a political figure or an issue that we’re doing something with the outrage. We’re giving voice to it. We’re outraged at the left or progressives or the President or the religious right or Westboro Baptist or what Pat Robertson said. We’re outraged at how unbiblical the film Noah is or we’re outraged at people who are outraged about it. Or that church is silent on this issue or that issue.

Last week, it feels like last year, World Vision made a decision that had people so outraged they canceled their support of hungry children in foreign lands. The issue was gay marriage and biblical authority. People who saw this decision by World Vision as good were so outraged that Christians would act this way that they called up to support children. Then World Vision reversed their policy. Some were calmed, others were outraged. And the cycle continues.

In the middle of that discussion I asked one of my favorite questions: What does love look like? With the World Vision decision, pre and post, what does love look like for the Christian who wants to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? What does it look like to live and love the people who made the decision, the people who chose to pull their support, and all in the middle?

When I asked that question on the air, a man wrote and called me an idiot. Twice in the same email he used the word “idiot” because I pondered what Jesus would do, how he would act, how love would move into the world. This man was outraged. I was soft on sin because I dared to bring up the issue of “love” when dealing with the hot potato of gay marriage.

At times Jesus was angry. At times he wept. Sometimes he simply listened and then responded with a question or a story or a riddle. But I would say the guiding force of his life was not outrage. God was not so outraged by the world that he gave his only Son. God did not give his only Son because he was so fuming mad. God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son.

I understand the man who was upset with me and called me an idiot because this is where I live. I live at the level of outrage. I live on the plains of Indignation. And I’m desperately trying to move to some distant town in the hills that is not as barren as this valley. It’s more comfortable to live with measurable anger and angst. The outrage fuels me, pushes me toward the next thing that ticks me off. Toward the manager in the café at the grocery store who will see me and tell me I need to move along, that I’m loitering.

I can live at that level, ready to respond with some snappy retort or file a lawsuit, or, like Jesus, I can move into that person’s life with kindness and understanding. I can ask myself, “I wonder why she would treat a paying customer that way? I wonder what’s going on that would cause her to want to expel the very people that pay her salary?” Is it because young people have vandalized that area or taken advantage of a place where employees can have a break? Is it because she’s as much of a control freak as I am and this little bit of authority makes her feel better at life? Is it because she has a bad marriage or no marriage or a child with a disability? What’s going on in her life?

Maybe I am an idiot for asking the question. Maybe I’m losing my passion for truth. Or, perhaps, I’m being moved along by something greater than my passion to make the world bow to me and my vision of what would be best. Maybe the fuel of my life is changing from outrage to compassion. Maybe I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, to live at the level of love.

I sat in the café and hour and a half and the manager never showed up. My coffee was gone. And so was cup of outrage.


Anonymous said...

I am upset about the of my passionate complaints..outlawing the filming and reporting of abuse of animals in the food industry. I cannot believe a bill would pass outlawing it to record and film abuse and be jailed for it. There are numerous others..but animals cannot speak, call out ..and the Lord create all and breathed his breath into all . The very "lack of respect" for the LORDS creation disturbs me. Thank you and Peace.

Anonymous said...

I was recently outraged at my dr's office for withholding information on a blood test (Incompetent nurse, in my opinion, who focused on a minute reading of potassium i.e. .2 off and he bypassed the more critical issue of my liver enzymes that were way off!!!!!)Also outraged at outright "lie" that I HAD to come in for a physical vs simply reordering my prescription---from new supplier. Once in the office, my dr. said to me, "I don't understand why you're here for a physical..." Very frustrating, irritating for me!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I listen to all the outrage comments and sympathetic to all but I think that too many times we have gotten too preoccupied with our own sense of justice that we forgot that as Christians we are suppose to act like Christ at all times.

BrotherBill54 said...

Church America is too quick to pick up stones in order to rid their world of the next person or group that offends them. I was reading a divosional written in the late 1800's and a missionary was sharing that he had just spent 30 years looking for Jesus in the faces of people he did not agree with. How humbling that is! I am right now sitting in a coffee shop with a man born in the mission field who, two years after coming to the US to live, has left the church because they have no real compassion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I listen to all the outrage comments and sympathetic to all but I think that too many times we have gotten too preoccupied with our own sense of justice that we forget that as Christians we are suppose to act like Christ at all times.


Marilyn Peppers said...

I can tell you are feeling the outrage and it is wearing thin on your nerves. I find myself listening less and less to cable news programs. I wanted to stay informed but l found l was staying frustrated and argumentative. I know we need to have the programs such as the World Vision discussion...but l am much more drawn in to a person's story...and you provide your listeners with some great ones. I've been introduced to people such as Ann Voskamp, who encourages me to cultivate a grateful spirit which promotes praise to God. And when l am offering my time back to Him in praise, l don't dwell on the contentious, argumentative environment that is seeping in to everything in my world like fog. God is on the move in your life, Chris Fabry. Follow the pillar of fire!

Bill Brownlee said...

I wonder if the question "What would Jesus do?" is naive. What does that questions really mean? What are we really asking?

I think we are usually asking, "What would a middle aged, single man (whose primary purpose in life was to bring salvation to sinners) with no one for whom he was responsible and no community responsibilities and no opportunity to change his culture do?" However, very few of us find ourselves in that situation as Christians, especially in the United States. Instead, we find ourselves directly responsible for the political and cultural system in which we find ourselves as well as spouses, children, congregations, etc..

Asking "What would Jesus do?" (in the naive way it is typically asked) is hardly useful when a man comes upon a gritty, real-life situation. What would Jesus do when he sees a man verbally abusing a woman in the street? What about when this man grabs his girlfriend by her hair and begins dragging her away? "WWJD" suddenly loses its clean sensibilities.

While I agree that we need to avoid living at the level of outrage, we should beware that we are not condemning outrage itself. Chip Ingram has a very valuable view on anger. In Overcoming Emotions that Destroy (link), he writes, "[Anger] can be a healthy emotion that motivates us to correct attitudes, behaviors, or injustices that we perceive to be wrong." Outrage can be good.

In fact, if not for outrage, there would be no United States. If not for outrage, there would still be slave ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. If not for outrage, that man would have drug that woman by her hair to who knows what end.

Yes, outrage should not be the default of our Christian experience. However, the naive "WWJD" does not fit all circumstances. Honestly, it is sometimes a blind to hide our cowardice. Then we can continue along our path of convenient non-engagement.

Perhaps that is the real issue. Whether it is persistent outrage or cowardly sublimity, our lives are hollow without follow-through. As I have heard it put before, albeit uncouthly, "Put up or shut up."

Therefore, maybe the better question is, not "What would Jesus do?", but "What should I do?"