Even though they were only FaceTiming, Nannygranne recognized a derailed train of thought in Joyanna’s question. She finished with “If Jesus is in charge, everything should be perfect.” Nannygranne had heard the sentiment before. It’s common among believers and non-believers alike, but one not really supported in scripture.
Nannygranne sympathized with her young friend. “I wish everything for Christians would be perfect and happy, don’t you?”
Joyanna answered, “Yeah! I do!”
But Nannygranne also understood the need to define expectations and compare them to Truth’s reality. That could be so hard. But it was time for a Biblical reality check. “I wonder if that is how life was for the very first Christians. Would you like for us to look at their stories in the Bible and see what happened?”
Nannygranne reached for her Common English Bible. “I have a story to tell. Why don’t you grab a piece of paper and maybe you can draw a picture of what you hear. Would you like that?”
“Okay,” the girl said. “I’ll be right back.” She disappeared from the screen. Nannygranne heard rummaging through a drawer or box. She smiled as Joyanna returned to the phone with her supplies. She had also brought a bowl of snacks. “Okay, I’m back.”
“I can’t wait to see your work, Joyanna. Okay, before I read the story, I want us to think about a couple of things. We know Jesus said to treat others the way we want to be treated.”
“Yes, He did!” Joyanna said, glad to know her point of view was supported. “And Jesus said to be patient and kind.”
“You are right, Joyanna. Can you think of anything Jesus said about what He wanted children to do?”
Crunching on an apple slice, Joyanna guessed. “That children should come unto Him?”
“Good for you! You’ve been listening to your teachers. I can tell! He also said children are to obey their parents in the Lord. Now I have a harder question: Do you think Jesus ever got angry?”
Joyanna didn’t speak for a moment. She carefully selected the right colored pencil for her project. Finally she shrugged her shoulders. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answer.
“Well, let’s see what we can find.” Nannygranne flipped a few pages of the Bible. “I remember this story. One day Jesus came to the temple (sort of like our church building only a LOT bigger). He noticed people having an animal sale inside, and some of the sellers were even cheating people!”
“What?” Joyanna was shocked. “That would be loud and messy and not very nice.”
“Yes, and there were even people just out walking. Instead of going around the temple, they took a shortcut right through the temple while worship was going on! Can you imagine strangers just walking right through the church building while we were trying to worship?”
“How rude!!” Joyanna exclaimed. “Why did they do that?”
“Well, they weren’t showing very much respect for God, were they?”
“No!” she huffed.
“That’s right. Jesus was furious, too, so He decided He wanted to think about what He would do. He turned around and left. Jesus spent that evening thinking. He also made a whip. Somebody was going to get it!”
Joyanna’s eyes grew wide as she envisioned Jesus about to whip someone. She wasn’t sure she liked knowing this about Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
“Well, this happened just a little while after Jesus started teaching and healing people. It was his first trip to Jerusalem with His disciples.” Nannygranne began reading John 2:13-16 with the passion the words demanded. “It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, ‘Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.’”
Joyanna was stunned. “I didn’t know Jesus got mad like that.”
“Did you notice whose house Jesus said it was?”
“His Father’s house?” Joanna was still trying to reconcile her expectations with what she was hearing.
“And guess what. He did it again the last time He visited the temple before they crucified Him. He even made another whip.”
“Then why does Jesus tell us to be kind and patient and love each other?”
“Well, Jesus tells us never to forget who God is and that He is to be respected and obeyed. And Jesus obeyed His Father. AND we’re supposed to be like Jesus, and He only got angry when people didn’t obey God.”
Joyanna’s expression told Nannygranne she was still struggling.
“It’s a little complicated, huh? Well, who are some Bible people you remember who didn’t obey God and got into trouble?”
Joyanna thought a moment. Her eyes brightened as she recalled her Bible lessons. “There was Adam and Eve. They got sent out of the garden of Eden.”1 She continued with enthusiasm. “And everybody but Noah got drowned because they didn’t obey God.2 And Jonah got swallowed by the big fish3, and …”
“And a couple named Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Church and the Holy Spirit, and they dropped dead because of it,” Nannygranne finished. “So you see, obeying and respecting are very important. God knows it makes life better for everyone when we do right. Sometimes being angry is the right thing. But God warns us to be very careful when we are angry and make sure it is for the right reason.”
Turning to Matthew 5:22, she said, “Jesus said that we aren’t to be angry without a real reason. And the Bible tells us, ‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’5 In other words, we don’t throw fits or just get mad at someone because they got in our way.”6
“So, it’s okay for Daddy to be mad at me?” Joyanna needed to find a balance.
“God also tells us in several places that children are to obey their parents. Did you remember that?” Joyanna lowered her eyes and nodded her head.
Nannygranne continued gently: “And God tells parents to teach their children to follow God’s ways.7 And parents who lead you to God love you very much, I think. Do you think your parents are trying to teach you to follow God’s ways?”
The girl again nodded her head.
“So, if we disobey our parents—especially on purpose—and our parents need us to do better, maybe they might feel angry and do something to help us to remember better the next time…”
“…because they love us.” The girl finished the sentence with a little smile. She was beginning to realize that anger wasn’t always bad.
Nannygranne smiled. “You’ve GOT it!!”
She leaned toward Joyanna’s image on the screen. Another painful truth was also part of this equation. “God’s Word also says something about how even grownups make mistakes. First John 1:8-9 says, ‘If we claim we don’t have any sin, we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.’ So even moms and dads make mistakes.8 We just all need to do the best we can to be like Jesus and forgive each other when we make mistakes. Your part is to do your best to obey your parents. Your parents have to do the best they can, too.”
Joyanna looked up with a smile. She’d been working on her picture. Now she held it up for Nannygranne’s enjoyment.
Nannygranne smiled. Her young friend understood.
- Genesis 3; 2. Genesis 6; 3. Book of Jonah; 4. Acts 5; 5. Eph 4:26; 6. Gal 5:19-21; 7 Eph 6:4; 8. Lk. 11:11-13