In the sermon it was remarked in passing that in the Eastern traditions it was generally held that the worst sin was anger leading to injury to others, whereas in Christianity it seemed that sexual license was worse; in English, for instance, the very word immorality had overtones of sexual transgressions.
This part of the sermon was reported to a Christian who lived in the neighbourhood, and he later tackled the preacher on the point, adding, “I get angry myself, but only with good reason, so I don’t regard it as particularly sinful. After all, when Christ drove the money-changers from the Temple, he showed anger, and he was unquestionably right. When I get angry, it’s the same thing.”
The preacher took him outside onto the grass and gave him a big stone. He told him, “Throw this stone on the ground with all your force.” He flung it down and it made a great dent in the ground. The priest removed the stone and said, “Come back when that mark has gone.” It took some weeks before the mark was gradually obliterated by the rains and by people walking over it.
Then the priest said, “This is like your anger. Now take up the stone again.” They went to a still lake and the Christian was asked to throw the stone as hard as he could into the water. It made a tremendous splash, and the ripples went to the edge of the lake. But in five minutes all was completely calm again. The preacher continued, “And that is the anger of a Christ. It is just a passing thing, just for this event, and it doesn’t do any damage. When you struck the ground with your stone, some little insects were killed; but all you have just done here was to disturb the water momentarily, and it was even good for the plants at the edge of the water.”
The Christian was impressed, but did not want to give in so easily, and argued, “You’ve told me that my anger remains, and has lasting effects, whereas His anger is momentary and bears no malice. But still, at the moment of anger, mine is the same as the anger of Christ, isn’t it?”
The priest said, “It may seem so, but it is not really so. Take the example of water again. Suppose a smoothly flowing stream, and suddenly it is dammed by a landslide or something like that. It piles up before the obstacle; it froths and swirls as if in frustration. It looks angry, so to say. But then, it goes round, and soon creates a new channel round the obstacle, and is flowing smoothly as before. There is no permanent mark, and there is no fixed attitude, no posture.”