Rebel Without A Cause
What does it mean to be a Christian? That is the question we've been looking to answer over the last few weeks. Does it mean that they submit to authority? Does it mean that they rebel against it? I can find scriptures that support both of these, so does that mean this is a "grey area" where Christians can pick and choose when to submit and when to rebel?
Submitting to authority.
The bible has several verses regarding submission. The first one that came to my mind was Ephesians 5:22: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." And to answer your question: no, it's not because Josh quotes the scripture to me daily. It came to mind first because in my experience it is the most quoted scripture dealing with "submission". I think a broader topic that applies to everyone, not just those who are married, can be found in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Everyone must submit, or be subject to, the government they fall under.
So, what does that mean in today's world? Well, as we discussed on this week's podcast, it means everyday little things like obeying the speed limit and bigger things like paying your taxes. Yes, obeying the speed limit would be considered part of being subject to the governing authorities. When Sean brought this up in the discussion, I immediately knew I was guilty. I have on more than one occasion crept over the posted speed of 55mph on a certain highway I drive to work every day. I usually justify it by saying that it's socially acceptable to go up to 5 miles over the speed limit and you typically won't get a ticket unless you're going 10 miles over. Plus, everyone around me is doing it, so it's not that big of a deal.
Maybe you've said something similar about speeding. Or maybe you've said something similar but it was about another law or guideline that you bend (read: break) to suit your needs at that moment. But, think about that for a minute. If I can be so careless as to break the law—which is posted right in front of me, several times even—what other laws have I become numb to? This goes for man's law and God's law. When we pick and choose which laws we will submit to, we set up an inconsistent worldview.
Are some laws meant to be broken?
During our conversation, we also discussed how some man made laws may conflict with God's law and what our response should be. There are several stories in the bible that also help to demonstrate this, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The government declared a law that was against God's law and these three men refused to obey it. They were sentenced to death and by a miracle, they were spared so God could be given glory. While there is no clear command equivalent to what we see in Romans 13:1 for rebelling when God's law is being broken, we do see examples of this taking place and God rewarding those people for doing so.
So, what does that mean in today's world? To be completely honest, I'm not exactly sure. There are some people today who rebel against the government because they now recognize all marriages, and even some people that would go so far as to picket the funerals of soldiers who fight for a country that would allow gay marriage. Should those people be put into the same group as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? I don't think so. It is one thing to disagree and express your opinions, it is another thing to outright rebel or to break the law.
What's the cause for your rebellion?
This topic is tricky because there are great biblical examples for both sides. I'm not giving a license to rebel nor am I condoning obeying a law that contradicts God's law. I am, however, going to try to answer the question of this series: What does it mean to be a Christian? It means you are not a rebel without a cause. Being a Christian is being a rebel when you really think about it. It is living your life in submission to God and not in submission to desires of this world. God's law states to obey the laws of the rulers put in place to govern you, so by obeying them you are obeying God. But if you should ever find yourself in a position where you feel you should rebel against the law of the land, first pray and make sure you are not becoming a rebel without a cause. Put yourself in the shoes of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, or others like Daniel and Ester who were willing to surrender their lives for their cause: God.