I wonder if every church has them. Their profile is not hard to spot. They wear the cloth of disenchantment with authority. They chaff at rules or the appearance of any type of rigidity. They love to question the motives of those who make decisions. They take pride if the crowd goes left in going right. They wear their stubbornness as a badge of courage and refuse to bend. Don’t ever tell them they must do something for the word “must” is a dirty word.
While it would appear that they struggle with authority at heart, it is the sovereignty of God, which really trips them up and for good reason. Generally rebels are those who have suffered at the hands of tyrants while growing up. They have learned by being burned to recognize and detest poor leadership, to be suspicious of those who possess real or perceived power. Since God ultimately allowed them to suffer under the hands of people, how can He truly be trusted? While occasionally there is the unique rebel born kicking and screaming who stays that way, most come to the place of resistance through hurt and pain. We must also understand that there are times when it is appropriate to rebel. When leadership goes against God’s clear directive rebellion against those misguided authorities is appropriate. Rebels often cause people to think. They may inspire needed action. Principled rebels founded many nations.
Yet there is a corruptive vein in rebels that is deeply disturbing. It is the bloodline of pride. This pride camps on the platform of personal rights and refuses to bend before God or man. Consequently, a rebel cannot grow very intimate with God for ultimately the man or woman who resists yielding to anyone in authority resists yielding to the Lord. In Exodus 23:20,21 God said to the Israelites, “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice. Do not defy him, because he will not forgive your acts of rebellion, for My name is in him.”
1 Samuel 12:14,15--If you fear the Lord, worship and obey Him, and if you don’t rebel against the Lord’s command, then both you and the king who rules over you will follow the Lord your God. However, if you disobey the Lord and rebel against His command, the Lord’s hand will be against you and against your ancestors
Romans 13:2--So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.
In the first church I pastored I asked our director of Sunday School to come to church at least fifteen minutes early so she would be prepared to meet visitors with children and to help the other teachers if they had problems. This woman was a rebel by her own admission. She didn’t like me asking her to come early so she consistently arrived five minutes before church would begin. Our children’s ministry suffered, our friendship suffered until finally she left and the Lord brought in one whose heart was intent on pleasing Him. Solomon wrote, “Arrogance leads to nothing but strife, but wisdom is gained by those who take advice” (Proverbs 13:10).
Are you a rebel? May I ask you to answer this question truthfully? Are you growing in your walk with God, at peace with His leading in your life, at rest with those around you? Or, do you constantly feel like you are engaging others in battle, restless, ill at ease with yourself and God? If the latter is true, may I suggest it is time to lay down your arms, ask God to forgive you for questioning Him, make peace with those with whom you struggle and rest. With humility comes the quiet you so desperately want. You have fought long to protect yourself. Now it is time to let God fight for you, to trust that He does know what is best. He will exalt you and you will grow if you will cease your resistance.
Will those you have regularly questioned hurt you? Probably—sin will not go away until Jesus comes. Will your observations be right? Most likely—but right at the expense of growth is a sorry proposition. Stop focusing on the deficiencies of those around you. Cease doubting God. Let Him lead and let Him work through His servants. We need you to be on the team—you matter!
By gnawing through a dyke, even a rat may drown a nation.—Edmund Burke
©2000 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)