Rebels With A Cause
We Fail & Fall Short
In the movie The Wild One, Marlon Brando’s character Johnny is a leather jacketed leader of a restless gang of motorcycle riders. In one scene he is asked: “What are you rebelling against?” Without missing a beat, Johnny answered: “What’dya got?”
That outlook defines human nature. Rebellion has been present and active since the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve rebelled when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Not too many years later, an entire society revolted against God by attempting to build a tower to heaven. Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrews rebelled by constantly chasing after false gods and idols.
Nowadays, we are not immune to what has been embroidered deep within us. Our latent rebellion manifests itself when we transform a living faith into playing church or when we sugarcoat sin and refuse to change our ways. Even as we strive to be authentic in our faith-walk we regularly fail and fall short. In the unspoken mindset that is all too commonplace, we in effect say: “I will do what I want to do. I will do as I please. No one can stop me. Leave me alone.” Too often we are self-indulgent and self-absorbed, wanting only to satisfy our ambitions.
The Greatest Rebel
Rebellion can be viewed as gasoline; rebellion for rebellion’s sake is the gasoline of a molotov cocktail, volatile and destructive. However, when the gasoline is channeled in a controlled burn it fires the engines that transport us forward; rebellion for God’s purposes fuels progress, growth and ministry.
The key is to apply lessons from Jesus of Nazareth for he was the greatest rebel who ever lived. Christ’s rebellion was based on radical allegiance to God’s goals. His actions and attitudes made him a rebel to many of his contemporaries, but it was Christ’s obedience that pleased God.
Jesus was a rebel with a cause; his cause was to tear down the barriers between God and man. He openly rebelled against the religious establishment and its pecking order. He challenged the status quo that separated people into spiritual haves and have-nots. He spoke out against the racial prejudice that was commonly accepted and practiced by others. He attacked long held expectations that put God inside a box. He railed against outward customs that had become meaningless.
Self-will Versus God's Will
Contrast our rebellion rooted in self-will with Christ’s rebellion nurtured in God’s will. Jesus came to carry out God’s plans: “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
Christ was selfless and dedicated to knowing and doing God’s will. He is our example of holiness. He engaged the culture of his day, shattering cultural norms that conflicted with kingdom principles. He was the most holy human being who ever lived, yet spent plenty of time involved in situations or with outsiders who the religious elite condemned.
To remain centered on eternal objectives, Jesus routinely separated himself from entanglements to spend time alone in prayer, meditation and contemplation. He lived a life of discipline and discernment to stay aligned with the highest ideals of God's designs and intentions. His desire was to give people a clear understanding of our Heavenly Father’s love, compassion and grace.
Our Central Motivation
Using Christ’s example as our yardstick, is there anything the modern church should be rebelling against? Do we ever pledge radical allegiance to God’s goals? What would an unbeliever conclude about our Heavenly Father by reading our lives? Would a seeker assume that God resides inside a box of our long held traditions? Would it be obvious to an agnostic that maintaining the status quo is pretty darn important to us?
Seems to me that as Christ-followers we ought to be rebels with a cause; our cause must be to eliminate obstructions in front of the cross of Calvary. It is entirely fitting to object to pretensions, empty words and hollow phrases of religiosity. We should resist anything and everything that hinders our relationship with God or prevents it from being contagious.
The church should be all about distributing hope like it’s going out of style for our world desperately needs hope. Our central motivation should be strengthening our connection to God by acts of obedience as we increase our knowledge of him in every facet of our lives.
So when institutionalized religion asks: “What are you rebelling against?” Without missing a prayer, we need to answer: “What’dya got?”
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
- Rituals, Traditions and Other Matters
How frequently do people trade the freedom of relationship to shackle themselves to rituals or traditions for the sake of the ritual or tradition? It is commonplace to resist the supernatural, while shaping our innate need for worship into customs...
- To Rise Above Regrets
Regrets have a way of freezing us up inside. Sometimes the accumulated weight of them can be an ice-pick striking with ceaseless precision. Guilt, real or imagined, can keep us wide-awake long past...
- Why Doesn't God Reveal Himself?
"Why doesn't God just come out and reveal himself?" is the question that often gets repeated by seekers and skeptics alike. The answer is in plain sight, but from generation to generation we humans tend to keep blinders firmly in place...
More by this Author
Troubles are part and parcel of life. We all experience hard times that can be described as being rotten. This essay considers prayer and the Advent Season to direct the reader to hope, help and redemption.
Helen Keller overcame tremendous disabilities to live a life that was a daring adventure. This essay is an inspirational look at her life, and presents lessons we can learn and apply.
God has a mark for each of us to hit. This essay explores that from the context of Scripture. It offers much encouragement to be courageous and proceed forward in the process of discipleship.