With the Lights Out

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Hi, my name is Kelly, and I am a rebel.

I’m sure this is true of all people to some degree or another, but I feel particularly prone to resist authority.

I blame my older brother.  He modeled rebellion well for me, for which he spent the better part of the 90’s grounded.  I also blame alternative rock stars.  Kurt Cobain, in particular.  He was my idol for 3 or 4 years, and his anti-authority attitude rubbed off on me.  Lastly, I blame my friends at the time, who were a lot more courageous than me in bucking any and all authority, but nonetheless inspired me to resist rules and rulers in the depths of my heart.

Oh, and I guess I blame myself, too…  If I HAVE to…  Personal responsibility, blah, blah, blah…

All that to say that I had many years of training in refusing to submit to authority.  But I was usually too scared to outwardly resist, so I just kept those disgruntled feelings stewing inside of me while I towed the line.  Then, afterward, I’d sit around with my rebel friends and talk about how stupid those rules were and how stupid those authority figures were for enforcing those rules.

Enter God.

He came into my life when I was 16.  And all of a sudden, THE Authority Figure desired my joyful compliance.  I had to be rewired.  I had to learn that He was trustworthy.  I had to learn that obeying Him was actually in my best interest as well as His.  I had to learn to follow Someone else’s rules, not so I could get into Heaven, but as a sign that I really do love God (John 14:15,24; 1 John 5:3).

To be honest, I have to relearn these things a lot.  It’s hard for me to not slip into the mindset that God is a demanding authoritarian whom I must obey or else run the risk of severe consequences.  I often forget that He is love, subconsciously transforming Him into a harsh Disciplinarian whose chief concern is that I obey Him simply because He says so.


It totally misses His heart for me.

At the core of who God is, He LOVES me (John 16:27).  And if we don’t understand God’s desire for our obedience in the context of His love for us, we turn Him into something He isn’t – a tyrannical authority figure.

We must leave this faulty perspective behind and intentionally adopt this new one – this correct one.

Because God loves us, He wants what is best for us.

God tells us what to do because He knows better than we do what is best for us.

If we obey Him, we experience what is best for us.  God is overjoyed that we trusted Him and loved Him enough to obey Him.

If we do not obey Him, God is grieved.  He is angry and sad that we, His precious children, are experiencing less than the best.  And he is sad that we did not trust Him or love Him enough to obey Him.

More concisely, when we disobey the Lord, He is first and foremost heartbroken.  Anger may be His secondary response, but immense sadness is His first emotion.  He is sad for us.  He is hurt by us and our lack of trust in Him.

What’s my point?

This slight change of perspective ought to help us resist temptation much more easily.

Our previous line of thinking was this: I shouldn’t do ______ because the Bible tells me not to or because God will be mad at me.

Our previous reaction was this: Frankly, who cares?  I want to do what I want to do.  He can be mad if He wants, but I’ve got to take care of me.

Animosity and isolation, then, rule our hearts, distancing us from God emotionally and making Him the “enemy”.

But with this shift of perspective, our thinking becomes this: I don’t want to do ________ because I don’t want to make God sad.

Love becomes our motivation.  We feel like we are on the same team as God.  We love Him; He loves us; and we’re in this crazy life together.

This same change of perspective can be applied to relationships with other authority figures in our lives.  Bosses, parents, pastors, spouses.  When they ask us to do something we don’t want to do, we can choose to be angry and do what we want to do anyway.  Or we can change our perspective to one of love – I don’t want to hurt this person by selfishly disobeying.  Perhaps this will make it easier for us to submit in these relationships as well.

**Insert your own disclaimer here that we shouldn’t always obey everything someone tells us to do just because they are in a position of authority over us.  I don’t want to take the time to write such a disclaimer because that should be obvious. 🙂 **

Being motivated by love to resist temptation to buck authority… that sounds like Jesus to me.