I have not written anything in quite a while. I mean, of course, nothing of substance. I have been pelted with opportunities to respond to a host of queries that have filled my email inbox with “what do you think about this or that” comments.
I am certainly not unaware of the growing list of unsettling news stories beating at my door. The “Freedom Convoy” in Canada, the convoys of trucks supposedly on their way to Washington, D.C. - the never-ending vax/anti-vax/mask/unmask/school/no school/etc, the pouring of illegals over the border, defund the police, the rising violence in our streets, unabated growth of crime, banning federal prisons, Biden/Harris, Trump vrs everyone and on and on and on. It is not that I have no interest or am not concerned about these matters; I really, really am.
The thing I’m wrestling with these days is in my own heart. The struggle is so real, that for a season, I have marked myself unqualified to pontificate on matters of government and foreign affairs until I settle the conflict that is raging in my own heart. I thought I might share a little bit my personal warfare, thinking there may be others with similar struggles. These issues are present tense with me, right now. They are by no means settled. However, I am determined with God’s help, to understand where my place is in the midst of our cultural turmoil. For a long time, I thought I was standing on pretty firm ground. These days, I am not so sure.
Allow me to explain.
The Shorter Westminster Catechism (a document to which I strongly ascribe) is a theologically powerful and doctrinally sound document, firmly rooted in the authority of the Bible. It begins with an important question: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer to that question is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
Using different words, but expressing similar ideas, the apostle Peter says this: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him [emphasis mine] who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
In short, I believe that my life exists for a single, overarching purpose: To glorify God. Whatever else I do –– my calling, my ministry, my vocation, even my thoughts and emotions –– must become subservient to this one thing. I believe this issue has become so important now because for so many years I did not consciously live my life with that single goal in mind. I do not want to live the remainder of my days so carelessly.
I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have strong feelings about many of the issues that face us today. I don’t like Joe Biden and I believe his administration has been and will continue to be detrimental to the future of our nation. I am wholly convinced that the weakness and indecision of our President has emboldened Russia and China to threaten military advances. While I thought Donald Trump was a strong and decisive leader, there were many things in his demeanor and personal life that deeply troubled me both before and during his administration. I saw him (and still do) as a proud and often arrogant individual and predicted it would lead to his downfall. I do believe that the COVID pandemic, while real and dangerous, was co-opted for political gain and personal profit and utilized to centralize governmental control over the American population. Something deep down inside of me has cheered for truck drivers driving to Ottawa and nurses who were called “heroes” during the pandemic who are now watching those who once celebrated their courage and dedication calling for their arrest and dismissal.
Long story short. I am an American. I love this country and I am so thankful to God for the privilege of being born here. I was afforded the opportunity to escape the poverty into which I was born and realize the potential that I was created with. I am concerned about what America has become and the path we are pursuing as a nation. These things though, are not the source of my current personal struggle.
My struggle lies in this: How do I resist what I may consider to be unjust or ungodly without compromising the divine purpose of God in my life? That is, to glorify Him. How can I resist without becoming rebellious? How do I faithfully stand against such monumental issues without developing a rebellious heart? While we are admonished in the Word of God to resist evil, we are also warned about the dangers of a rebellious spirit. Resistance against evil is noble, but a rebellious spirit is deadly. I am asking God to show me how to prevent godly resistance from becoming sinful rebellion.
There are some clear examples of men who resisted some laws of man without displaying a rebellious spirit.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego disobeyed the command of King Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to kneel before the image he had raised up in the plain. They simply said “No.” I am sure there were many laws in Babylon that were unjust, unfair, or discriminatory––whatever you want to call them. However, I can find no indication that these three men refused to obey the laws of this ungodly king until he made a decree that would require them to do something that would bring dishonor to their God. They clearly did not display a sullen, angry, or rebellious spirit but replied to the king that his law was superseded by a greater law and therefore, they could not obey it.
Daniel was confronted with a law from King Darius that forbade him from praying to his God. Daniel disobeyed that edict. He knelt to pray as he had always done. He did not make a big show of it. He did not protest in the courts of the king and decry how his rights were being violated. He simply said, “No.” Daniel was not a rebellious man. He resisted an ungodly law. Yes, it was unjust, but his reason for resistance was that it countermanded the law of God.
Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, accused of preaching in the Name of Jesus. Upon being told that they were forbidden to preach in the Name of Jesus, they did not take an angry, accusatory, and rebellious posture. They simply declared that because they had been commanded to preach the gospel of salvation through Jesus by God, they could not obey the orders given to them by the Sanhedrin. Again, they invoked a higher authority.
It is not the idea of resistance to evil or injustice that I struggle with. It is the inclination of my wicked heart (the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked - Jeremiah 17:9) to move beyond resistance to rebellion. We are told in the Word of God to “be angry but do not sin.” [Ephesians 4:26] Quite frankly, that is a line that I trip over, a lot. Sometimes, it seems to be more than I can stand not to comment, or post, or vent my frustration with the foolishness or injustice I see all around me. It usually is manifested in anger, sarcasm, character assassination, or plain old frustration. What it does not do –– is glorify God. And therein lies my personal shame.
I write all of this just to simply say: In our zeal to resist what we might perceive to be evil, unjust, or downright ridiculous, we must be careful that we do not allow a root of bitterness to overtake our hearts which will defile us and turn our resistance into rebellion. We are commanded not to obey laws that go against the law of God. I am confident that such a command does not constitute license to refuse to obey laws I simply don't like.
I am at heart a fighter; a warrior, if you will. Right now, I am fighting with myself, trying to make sure I don’t draw my sword for the wrong warfare.
“So let your light shine that men, seeing your good works will glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)