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Rebels With A Cause

Updated on October 27, 2013

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?”


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    • Destined To Win profile image

      Destined To Win 8 years ago

      Great article. I am so glad to know the One who "engaged the culture of his day" with a transformational message of hope. Thanks for the gentle yet profound reminder of what our central motivation must be.

    • bdavis profile image

      bdavis 8 years ago

      Glad to know you're out here in the trenches. It is FAR far too easy to hide behind the Pharisee role we all have in us. The only way to conquer it is to acknowledge it and repent of it every time it raises it's ugly head. I agree, Great Article.

    • PinanShodan profile image

      PinanShodan 8 years ago

      Great Article!

    • Appletreedeals profile image

      Appletreedeals 8 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      excellent writing, glad I visited

    • profile image

      nletteney 8 years ago

      Excellent comments. I'm rebelling against the syncretism in the North American church.

    • profile image

      kathy brown 8 years ago

      material like this definitely keeps me on track