Rebel with a Cause

Not this.  Photo by josephy.org.
     Not this. Photo by josephy.org.

American culture reveres the rebel.  We talk about the history of our country’s founding as a bunch of upstarts who took on the British government and earned their freedom. Of course, there’s truth to this.  But it glosses over the fact that the founding fathers consisted of men of property and integrity.  Things had reached an intolerable place for them as citizens of the Crown.  They did their best to combat the taxation without representation.  As time went on, they had to make a decision.  They didn’t want to leave their adopted country.  Neither did they want to be oppressed any more.  They made a calculated decision.  It caused dissension in the colonies and angered King George. Once you start on the path of pushing against authority, people choose sides.  You bring consequences on yourself. Your actions push others around you to take up arms or turn away.  The time of neutrality comes to an end, unless you’re Switzerland.

Fast forward to the Civil War, circa 1860.  North and South fought for five years over the right to keep slaves.  The South tried to secede from the Union.  They even set up their own seat of government, with a president and everything. The South called themselves rebels. They said it with pride; some still do, flying their Confederate flag even now.  Deciding to rebel didn’t pan out well. It divided the country, and to some extent, still does more than 100 years later. I’ve greatly simplified both examples here, but you get the idea.

What does it mean to be a rebel?  The online dictionary says:

1a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler.
Pretty straightforward.  However, Romans 13 says God set up authority:  Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. Romans 13:1-2
Which begs the question, what do we do when authority has become unjust?  We must weigh the consequences of our actions, pray and seek God’s face, and move forward.

In my Bible reading today, I’ve reached Ezekiel.  This is the freakiest book in the Bible.  I’ve grown to like it, but it’s an acquired taste, with wheels covered in eyes and other thunderous visions. Throughout the major prophets, God called Israel rebellious, stiff-necked and faithless.  See, in God’s eyes, true rebellion is turning away from Him and His will.  He’s the final sovereign. It’s not fighting against your country of origin.  It’s not disagreeing with the president or laws enacted by Congress. We need to pray for those who have charge of us. God will give us wisdom. I certainly struggle with this.  It’s easier to complain than to lift it up to the Father. Ultimately, at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done and the fat lady sings (how’s that for a load of cliches?), we stand before the Lord of the universe.


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