Rebel Without a Clause

The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of Christians.
– A.W. Tozer

We can’t contemplate Easter without considering death, both His and our own. We have an appointment with death if Christ doesn’t come first (Hebrews 9:27) and we have a commandment to die to ourselves in this life if we want to follow Him. (Luke 9:23)

Interesting, isn’t it, how obedience to Him makes us compliant in one way, rebellious in another?

Still Dropping Out

I’m a fan of the James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause, having always related to the kid who couldn’t bring himself to go with the flow just because everyone else did. So I, like countless others of the 60’s generation, rebelled against the Establishment, the Man, the Status Quo.

Looking back, I’d have to say many of us hippies were awfully full of ourselves, congratulating each other for having the courage to drop out which takes, of course, enormous stamina.  (Trusting you caught
the sarcasm.)

As does preaching anti-materialism while living comfortably off your parents, as most of us did.  So yes, I look on my teen “drop out” years with regret, combined with a little amusement at how vain and stupid I was.

But while the taste for life a la Woodstock left me decades ago, the taste for rebellion never did. Even as a non-Christian I realized there was no virtue in going with the flow. Then, having been born again in my late teens, it became clear that some rebellion – rebellion against God, for example – was wrong to the point of evil (I Samuel 15:23) while some – chiefly rebellion against the world – was essential. (I John 2:15)

Involuntary Troublemakers

Life in Christ, while abundant and fruitful, is also oppositional.

“They are in the world but not of it”, Jesus said of His followers (John 17:14) and Peter reminds us that as believers we’re “strangers and pilgrims” in this place others call home. (I Peter 2:11) So if my life is Christ centered, my love for Him will show itself in an unwillingness to say yes to what others around me celebrate.

It’s opposition without contingency, rebellion without an escape clause. “No” to the World, Flesh, and Devil is an unqualified No absent
any conditions.

To be sure, that’s not always easy. But there’s something appealing about yet again thumbing my nose at the status quo, this time with good cause. Because every time I say no to the sin displayed and indulged all around me, I feel freer.

Free to Die

Now in the old days of Groovy, freedom meant indulgence, which created dependency, which ended in slavery.

But this time I’m not foolishly trading one bondage for another. Yes, temptation of all kind is there, sometimes really there. But to be free enough to die to myself and say “no” is to rebel, in the truest and godliest sense, and there’s no clause in my covenant with Him giving me permission to indulge rather than resist just because the going gets hard, or the majority
says “yes.”

This is rebellion by decree, given by the One who’s always told His people “You’re Mine, so you’re different.” (Deuteronomy 14:2, Titus 2:14)

The ghost of my old hippie likes that.

Maybe my penchant for independence isn’t too spiritual, but it’s there, and when I yield to righteousness by resisting unrighteousness today, that former long-hair in this 66 year old body will grin as the flesh dies yet again, the spirit rules, and walking in the light is chosen, by God’s grace, over wading through the gutter.

So we who are, as Peter said, “kept by the power of God” (I Peter 1:5) can now enjoy another day of the liberty found in being righteously peculiar, resisting the tide, and claiming allegiance to a higher, greater kingdom.

With a rebel yell.

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