(This article was written by Rex Cobb, Director of Baptist Bible Translators and is used with permission by the author via “For the Love of the Family” ministries.)
The Respectable Rebel
As I walk downtown, I meet two young men that I have known for some time. The first we’ll call Joey. He used to attend our church but he quit a few years ago; he also dropped out of school. Joey is dressed in black, baggy clothes with a long chain hanging down his leg. He has tattoos and body piercing in several places that I can see, and God only knows where else. He has a blank look on his face that makes me suspect that he is “on something”.
He walks slowly with no definite purpose or destination. Everything about him says, “I’m a rebel and I want you to know it!” Then I meet James, an entirely different type, also from our church. He is neatly dressed, he has no markings of the world as Joey does, and he greets me with a big smile and a firm handshake. I congratulate him on his recent high school graduation; he graduated with highest honors, by the way. I ask James about his plans for the future.
He tells me that he is going to a certain college where he will study pre-med. Then he plans to get into a certain medical school, and then will specialize, etc. I look at James and sadly remember Joey, thinking to myself, what a world of difference in the two! James is a respectable young man who knows what he wants and how to get it. He knows where he’s going and how to get there. James will certainly be an asset to society. We need more young people like him!
A strange thing happens as I walk away. The Holy Spirit seems to bring some verses to my heart – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” “For ye are bought with a price…” “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
I remember James’ words, “I want to…I plan to…I’m going to…I will…” I notice a lack of words like, “God wants me to…God is leading me to…I’m praying about…” I conclude that James is a rebel like Joey; he just is a respectable one! Neither boy is surrendered to God and seeking His will. Neither is following Jesus and carrying his cross. Neither is dead to self. Neither is remotely thinking about taking the Gospel to the heathen as Christ commanded.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying a Christian shouldn’t be a doctor, or have any other honorable occupation. I am saying it is sinful for a Christian to choose his own way and not live by faith and seek God’s will for his life. C. Austin Miles put it this way: “Not what I wish to be, nor where I wish to go, for who am I that I should choose my way? The Lord shall choose for me, ‘tis better far, I know. So let Him bid me go, or stay.” Judging by the fact that there are thousands of language groups without any Scripture, billions of people who have never heard the Gospel, and tens of thousands of cities without churches, I would have to conclude that most Christians are indeed choosing their way, not God’s. They may be respectable but they are rebels nonetheless.