Like so many, in my teens, I entered a rebellious phase against my parents. Whether it was breaking curfew, underage drinking, speeding, or trying out smoking, I was on a mission to rebel against authority. Looking back, it’s obvious why I did it, but in those days, I couldn’t tell you why.
During a few occasions, a few family members and friends said I was a “rebel without a cause.” This statement was a reference to a classic movie in which James Dean plays an emotionally confused, suburban, middle-class teenager with a chip on his shoulder. In essence, he has nothing to rebel against other than his frustration stemming from a strained relationship with his parents.
My destructive rebellion against authority went on for a long time, but today is productive. Let me explain. When I first read the much referenced Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13–25, I was taught the word “submission” was to fall in alignment with all authority, no questions asked. However, the more I read the bible, the more I realized this was precisely the opposite.
I read passages on how Jesus was a repeat offender and “broke” Jewish laws frequently, and how Paul and other disciples were arrested for “inciting” crowds. Yet each one of them commands us to “submit” to authority. Although this appears contradictory, it’s not.
The word “submit” in these passages and many others comes from the Greek word hupo-tasso, which means “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” In non-military terms is “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”
In essence, hupo-tasso is about aligning with and under for the greater good of all. However, the issue is when asked to align with someone or something contrary to God’s law. In this instance, we’re to follow God’s law rather than man’s, but understand we may have to pay the price.
A great example of this was the start of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The laws against African Americans were contrary to God’s commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). During those times, people “rebelled” against the laws and did so without inciting anarchy but also suffered greatly.
Today there is much turmoil and angst relating to various social issues at stake. We must all be vigilant to make sure we’re first following God’s law and then be ready and willing to pay the price for doing what is right. Never in a destructive fashion but always in a constructive way.
Be a rebel with a cause.
Answer and Journal the Following
Read and meditate on Proverbs 31:8-9 for yourself.
How are you standing up for the oppressed, the abused, and neglected despite the consequences of doing so? Be real; be honest.
Create a plan of action and determine how you will stand up for others and be willing to pay the price to be a rebel with a cause. Be specific.
Bonus: Share this with a fellow brother and have them hold you accountable.