Is it OK to rebel against a rule/law/etc.?As a youth minister, one of the topics that comes up over and over is about obeying parents (and other authorities). Scripture is clear that we are to obey the authorities (Ephesians 6, Romans 13:1-7) placed over us and so it’s a pretty easy answer. Of course you’ve gotta obey God’s authority above all else, but who are we to make those kinds of judgment calls? I mean – who is able to say that law is wrong and God would do this instead? We’re all human so it makes it tough sometimes. And then there’s the argument concerning the Bible. If it goes against God’s word, then it’s a man-made law and we aren’t required to follow it. But then again Romans 13 says that God placed the authorities in those positions and so if we disobey them, we are disobeying God.Bottom line: Is it OK to rebel against a rule/law/etc.?We see it all throughout Scripture but some guys (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego) are commended for it while others are condemned or even killed (Ananias and Sapphira).Consider one particular example from Jesus’ life. John 9 records Jesus’ healing of a blind man on the Sabbath by using spit and mud. He could have chosen to heal him any way he wanted to, but for some reason he decided that spit and mud were the best option. Now here’s the part I just learned – The Jewish system of laws said, “To heal a blind man on the Sabbath, it is prohibited to inject wine in his eyes. It is also prohibited to make mud with spittle and smear it on the eyes.” (Shabbat 108:20) Who wrote this law? Was this really a problem in the ancient world? Anyway, this means that Jesus not only broke the law by healing on the Sabbath, but he also chose a method of healing that He knew was forbidden by the Jewish laws! He broke the law and went against their authority on purpose! Jesus was a rebel! He was sinless and so of course it wasn’t sinful to break this law, but what about us? How can we know when it’s sinful to break the law and when it’s not? And the other question is why? Why would Jesus break this particular law on purpose? It was clearly about more than just healing the blind man. He could have healed him in countless other ways. Jesus must have had an ulterior motive. Did you hear that? Jesus had ulterior motives! He had a plan, a scheme, another agenda! And then he’d go and say something like, “I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” (Matthew 5:17) Can’t you hear the people now – “What are you talking about? You are destroying it. You just broke the law and now you’re saying this?” Did Jesus break those laws (Sabbath and spit laws) because He knew they were breaking the people?I’m not sure what to think anymore. Jesus did the very things I tell our youth not to do.Hmm. . . what are the religious laws, the modern rules that need to be broken? What sacred cows need to be BBQed? What ones should we draw attention to and then rebel against? And how can we know which laws should be broken? Which laws are written by man and which are from God? If we are to obey the authorities He has placed over us, aren’t those laws to be obeyed as if they were from him? Which laws have we added to the Scriptures that are keeping people from knowing God? Which ones are breaking the people?I wonder if there’d be more teenagers interested in church if we started doing the kinds of things Jesus did?Not sure I really have the answers today – these are just things that are rolling around in my head today.
One of the classic questions used by youth ministers in “get to know you”-type games is this: If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why? My standard answer to that question comes from an experience I had in a park one day. I was feeding the ducks out on a dock in a park when I was in college, and there were two swans out quite a distance from the dock.
I didn’t want them to miss out, so I threw the bread as far as I could out near them. One of the swans would pick up the piece of bread and then drop it in front of the other one, then he would eat it. Eventually I was able to get them near the dock, and each time I threw the bread the swan would take it to the other one to eat. I soon realized that one of them was blind. The one who could see was bringing the food to him.
So what animal would I be? I’d be a swan – I just don’t know wether I’d want to be the one who provided for his friend, or the blind one who was able to trust that God would provide for him. It’s my prayer that I can live my life in both ways – trusting God to provide and serving the people around me.