If a rule is made, a rebel thinks it is their duty to break it.
Ordinarily when we hear the word rebel, we think of someone who consciously and stubbornly goes against whatever the norm is at the time.
That was the thought behind the book and the movie titled “Rebel Without A Cause,” which came out in the ‘50’s
The decade of the ‘60s saw much rebellion, but most of it was attached to a cause.
We had the Viet Nam war, a rise in pristine puritanical fundamentalism, and an uncertain future with the potential for someone to push the button of nuclear war.
Rebellion by the youth of that time—which would be us Baby Boomers—was almost a rite of passage.
Now, however, we often consider rebellion to be bad, but that is mainly because we don’t want anyone to rock the boat of our comfort.
Our country was established by a concerted and well-informed effort to achieve freedom from tyranny.
All countries today who have a level of freedom have attained that freedom through some form of rebellion.
Remember Ghandi and his rebellion against the British Empire.
Civil disobedience is founded on the concept of using peaceful rebellion to bring about change.
There are times when rebellion against authority is necessary as a matter of conscience.
So they called them and charged them not to speak
or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
This happened after Peter and John had healed the beggar at the temple.
Everyone that witnessed this miracle was eager to hear what Peter had to say about it.
So he took the opportunity to share the gospel with the crowd, and that upset the leaders of the people.
But Peter and John answered them,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God,
you must judge,
for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
We find Jesus doing much the same thing with relation to the Pharisees, who were the rule-makers for Judaism.
They were also the ones who determined if someone was breaking one of their rules.
We find a prime example of this in the Gospel of Luke.
But the ruler of the synagogue,
indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath,
said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done.
Come on those days and be healed,
and not on the Sabbath day.”
Then the Lord answered him,
Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey
from the manger and lead it away to water it?
The pharisees had made a multitude of rules defining the concept of work which could not be done on the Sabbath.
For instance, it was illegal to walk more than a mile on the Sabbath.
People, being what they are, found a way around that however.
If they had to travel on the Sabbath, they would go as far as necessary on the day before so that they only had a one-mile journey left for the sabbath.
Jesus nailed them to the wall in this incident.
Their hypocrisy was plainly evident in their call against the healing of humans even though they would do the things necessary to take care of their livestock.
Jesus was not against taking care of the livestock. He was against a rule that placed their needs above that of humans.
In another instance when the pharisees challenged Him on His laxness about keeping the Sabbath, Jesus said,
“The Sabbath was made for man,
not man for the Sabbath.
He was simply saying that the Sabbath came after man was created.
If it had come first, then it would have more importance for man.
The sabbath was made so that people would be given a break from their constant work.
So, all the rules that had been made in order to fulfill the commandment to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy were meaningless to Jesus.
That is not how holiness is maintained.
Yet, in our day, we have denominations formed around the rules to make one holy—not only for the Sabbath, but also for everyday of the week.
Rules, regulations and required rituals are something we should pay close attention to and not get caught up in them.
They are all designed by humans who think they have a handle on what God requires of us.
The rules are put there by leaders who do not trust the Holy Spirit to do His work in your life.
However, rules and regulations only give us an outward appearance of being right.
It is still possible for the heart to be completely wrong while all the outward behavior is seen as correct.
Paul spoke to this in his letter to the Colossians.
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink,
or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world,
why, as if you were still alive in the world,
do you submit to regulations—
“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—
according to human precepts and teachings?
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body,
but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Establishing and keeping rules only deal with the outward behavior.
They are made so that the ones making them have something to fall back on should you embarrass them.
They do not address the issues of the heart.
When I moved to Phoenix to help a church there, I didn’t have a tv.
I didn’t miss having one either.
In fact, I was pretty cocky about the fact that I didn’t watch television.
Then one day, after service, I came out to the car and there on the driver’s seat was a little 10-inch black and white tv.
I took it home, hooked it up, and was just as addicted as ever.
The desire had not been dealt with even though the accessibility of the television had been eliminated for quite some time.
The making of rules to control behavior is absolutely not a part of the gospel.
Christianity is not about behavior modification even though that is the way it appears in most places.
A modification in one’s behavior may happen, but that is not the primary goal of Christianity.
And that is why we see so much in the New Testament about watching out for rules being placed on us.
When obeying the rules becomes paramount, then people will sit in judgment on those who don’t keep a particular rule.
This is somewhat like the pharisees who fed their livestock, but didn’t want a woman healed.
Paul talked about this as he was concluding his letter to the Romans.
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him,
but not to quarrel over opinions.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?
It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
And he will be upheld,
for the Lord is able to make him stand.
The message in the whole chapter 14 of Romans is about the different things people use to judge the faith of another.
Paul writes about food, about clothing, about special days—including the sabbath—and says that none of these things are worth arguing about.
Arguments generally occur when someone says something about another’s behavior or beliefs.
This always comes from a place of judgment, and judgment comes from a place of superiority born of legalism.
Judging another will never allow you to know what it means to be a vessel of love.
Jesus valued love over judgment every time.
Remember the woman caught in adultery?
That event was a prime opportunity for judging both her and the pharisees, but He didn’t.
He could have judged them for not bringing the man who was with the woman, but He didn’t.
He could have given into the pressure by the pharisees to pronounce sentence against the woman, but He didn’t.
And in His refusal to do so, He once again rebelled against the rules and regulations of His society.
We need to see, however, that His rebellion was always for the higher good in order to maintain the overarching principle of love.
The greatest of all the commandments is to love.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
This is usually viewed as two separate laws in such a way that we think we can keep one of them but not the other.
However, that is deceptive thinking.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Loving your neighbor fulfills the requirement to love God.
As John said
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar;
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
No one—not you, not me, not anyone—has been ordained as God’s policeman.
We are not here to enforce the law on anyone but ourselves, and most of us have a hard enough time doing only that.
And finally, there is a verse seldom heard in legalistic circles where the emphasis is on maintaining correct standards of behavior.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Are you hoping for mercy from the Lord when you stand before Him?
This is probably the best guarantee of all the religious sayings and pious platitudes ever concocted for receiving mercy.
I would rather be wrong for showing too much love, than to be wrong for showing too much judgment.
As I read the scriptures, I have yet to find the limits of love, the limitations of mercy.
I invite you to go and do likewise.
Be a rebel like Jesus.
Stretch the limits of your love.
Move out of your comfort zone and love an unlovely person this week.