In 1963 the slapstick comedy film, “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was released. The film begins with a car accident on a lonely freeway in the Southern Californian desert: ex-convict Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) loses control of his car and drives it off a cliff. Five motorists stop to assist Grogan but he is fatally injured. With his dying breath Smiler reveals he hid a cache of stolen loot, $350G’s, at a park buried under a “Big W in the town of Santa Rosita California.” The motorists discuss Grogan’s words and try to reason with each other for a fair share of the loot. Civility quickly deteriorates into MADness and an all-out zany race ensues between the motorists vis-à-vis to get to the money. The movie lives up to its billing—MAD!

Like the movie—MAD people are everywhere! It appears that everyone is MAD about something these days: the economy, the president, Wall Street, Homeland Security, TSA, unions, taxes, politicians, police, the war in Afghanistan, IRAQ, guns, the weather, immigration and just everything in general! A cursory look at this year’s news headlines reveals some type of MADness abounds.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears on route to Beijing, China.
Israel invades the Gaza strip after Hamas launches rockets into Israel.
Ukrainian separatists shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, over Ukraine killing all onboard.
Two NYPD officers were ambushed and shot dead in their squad car by a crazed gunman.
Two Las Vegas Police Officers were ambush and killed while eating lunch at a pizza restaurant by a crazed gunman.
Obama declares war on ISIS sends U.S. Troops back to Iraq.
At least 132 children are murdered in an attack by the Taliban in an attack on an army-run school in Pakistan.
Ferguson Missouri explodes in riots when a grand jury does not indict a police officer who shot and killed a black suspect.
An unknown number of Syrians, Lebanese, Kurds, Americans, British aid workers, Syrian and Iraqi Christians, and untold women, children, and men have been beheaded by ISIS.
Two Pennsylvania State Police officers were ambushed killing one and seriously wounding the other by a crazed gunman.
Nigerian gunmen suspected with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram have killed dozens of people and kidnapped hundreds of young women in Nigeria.
A driver ran down 13 bystanders in the eastern city of Dijon, France, reportedly shouting ‘God is great.’

And the list goes on and on.

Most of us know someone who has “someone or something in their crawl,” that they can’t see straight. Most conversations with them usually deteriorate into a diatribe of how so and so did such and such or how this is that is “so wrong” and they are MAD about it. Occasionally the other party or parties involved are just as MAD about it because they feel it’s them who “was wronged.” If you’ve been unfortunate enough to be caught in the middle of such a situation you understand the MADness.

Recall the last time you were MAD at someone. Being offended or hurt by another person is a hazard of being human. Most of us follow the teachings of Christ and forgive and move on. Sadly it looks as if the new norm for being MAD is to either to riot, murder, loot, or attack whatever or whoever is handy. You may recall the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was MAD at God for rejecting his offering; Abel was an innocent bystander—yet Cain took his MADness out on Abel and killed him (Gen 4:1-16).

The danger of being MAD is—it’s contagious. Some people when aggrieved don’t sit in silence but seek allies and supporters to help carry their banner. Don’t become a casualty of someone’s MADness. Instead be a peacemaker and show them how Jesus teaches us to pray and forgive! But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Mt. 5:44-45a). As Christians we know forgiveness begins with Christ: Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Col 3:13).

This is a tall order but it comes from the Prince of Peace. The alternative is being MAD and I just can’t believe any rational loving person should be MAD. Paul gave us the best prescription when he wrote: If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18). Don’t be MAD but be glad in forgiveness!

Happy New Year!