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I was talking to a six year old not long ago as she told me about a boy she liked in school. I said, “Why do you like him?” and she replied, “Because he’s funny.” I framed my next question based on my having worked for many years in early childhood education. “Does he get in trouble with the teacher?” I asked. “Yes”, she replied, with a smile and a giggle.
There is something about a rebel that tends to attract us. Now granted, a six year old may not meet all of the qualifications of a rebel, but there is something about the system that just doesn’t click with them. And their bucking of the system will bring a sound of laughter out of a kindergarten audience. Albeit, may be a nervous sort of laughter.
All throughout history, rebels have both intrigued and inspired us. It may be their way of standing up against a system that others adjust to. Or it may be the way they fight against the status quo, although at times it may be a misguided battle. Satan, or as he was formerly known; Lucifer, was a rebel. He certainly falls into the “misguided” category. If there ever was a futile rebellion, his had to be it. “I think I will rebel against God. Try to take over.” His end result is still yet to come. But I am certain that he regrets his decision; which may be a large portion of the fuel that fires his determination to take as many souls with him as demonically possible.
Sadly though, he is a rebel that draws a very dangerous attraction from many. The “evil dark side” of reality tends to allure people into a potentially deadly trap. For some, it’s an attempt to be mysterious. For others it’s a conscious unholy alliance. Either way, it’s a bad game to play. To combat the dark side takes a rebellious type of love.
Typically though, when we think of rebels, Lucifer doesn’t come immediately to mind. Spend some time down south, and you’ll meet a rebel on every street corner. And most of them are proud of it. The confederate flag all but outnumbers “Old Glory”, or at the very least, gives the stars and stripes a run for its money. There is a deep sense of pride and conviction running through the south, even if the current crop of rebels aren’t quite certain what it is they are rebelling against.
The term rebel is typically associated with one who resists either authority or tradition. I can totally relate to this, because throughout my life, I have had a tendency to resist both. Time and perhaps a sense of survival have tempered me a bit on the authority side, but I still have problems with traditions.
Especially tradition for tradition sake.
But in my heart, lies the heart of a rebel. I have to admit, this rebellious side of me has often times gone without focus. At times, it seemed first nature. Whatever “it” may be, my natural response was the opposite. My rebellious nature has caused me both grief and satisfaction. Lately though, I have fine tuned my rebellious spirit, and steered it onto a primary path.
The Lover of my soul was a rebel. He was arrested, “tried” and “convicted” as such. Ultimately, He was executed as well. Among His crimes was tearing up the religious system of His day. He was never accused of that particular “crime.” At least, not in so many words. But, in all that He did, His motivation was love.
His name is Jesus.
To suggest that Jesus was a rebel is all at once vogue and appropriate. For some, to think of Jesus as a rebel, is cool. We tend to dig identifying with the “rebel Jesus.” Verbal confrontations with the religious people, tearing some stuff up in the temple. Breaking “tradition” by healing on the Sabbath. And hanging out with various women, derelicts and drunks certainly marked Him as rebellious. Bucking authority, trashing religion…Yes, that’s a rebel to definitely identify one’s self with.
However, those examples were specific instances in Jesus’ life. And as rebellious as they may have been, He has called His followers to a far greater state of rebellion. An ongoing way of living that doesn’t appear to be all that rebellious. But the rebellion that is required here goes far deeper than calling out a religious person. It requires us to rebel against everything that human nature has taught us. Everything we feel comfortable with.
Everything that we know.
To begin the process of becoming a legitimate rebel, we must first launch a rebellion within ourselves.
In Luke the 9th chapter and verse 23, Jesus said the following, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Denying yourself is a rebellious concept indeed. We are conditioned to put ourselves first. Often times, even when we are helping someone else out, it’s in order to feel good about ourselves. The ironic thing is that when we are serving others out of a genuine love, we will “feel good” in spite of ourselves. But to deny what I want, to deny what I need, well that is bordering on ludicrous. One of my pet peeves is when a person starts a sentence with, “I want.” Right or wrong, the simple truth is “I” wish they didn’t do it. “Self” is a hard habit to break.
There are many different aspects to self. Most often, we tend to apply negative meanings: SELF-centeredness, lack of SELF control, SELF-ishness. But there are other ways to view self, as in what makes us who we are. Personal preferences; tastes in things such as music, movies, etc; habits (not all habits are bad); even levels of tolerance (some things just bug us); and even points of view. All of these are parts of “who” we are, and there is nothing intrinsically “bad” about any of them, as long as they do not place us outside of God’s will.
Yet, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves. Or simply stated; putting others first. And that is not solely those people that we have an investment in, like our children or our spouse. Or even our parents. It’s the beggar flying a sign at the freeway on-ramp. It’s the prostitute working the truck-stop. It’s the crazy neighbor who tosses their dogs crap over the fence and into our yards. It’s the single mother stripping for a living six nights a week. It’s even the men who toss her a buck for a lap dance.
That’s some serious denial. Rebellious you might say.
And it is only accomplished by Gods rebellious love flowing into, and out of us.
And this leads us to the next part of that verse, “taking up your cross.” There is nothing pleasant about bearing a cross. True cross bearing must include a willingness to suffer. It’s called sacrifice, and typically leads to death. Jesus suffered silently, and that may be the most difficult part of all. When I am truly “bearing my cross,” I tend to find myself talking a little less, even when I want to cry out. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that he was “crucified in Christ Jesus, and [he/self] no longer lives.” So at least we are in good company.