My focus so far in this series has drawn attention to the impact of rejection and the tendency of rejection to promote such responses as self-pity and extroversion, to buy love.
In contrast to those tendencies is the response of Rebellion. This is the response from those who choose to “go on the offensive”, since, to them, a good offence is the best defence.
Rebel With A Cause
Many people who are rebellious, in personal life or in the broader cultural setting, are carrying inner hurts. People who are offended readily take up an offence against those who hurt them. That offence can stir retaliatory, vengeful and hateful attitudes. And so, a rebel can be born.
While not all rebels are the product of personal hurts there are many families stung by the pain of a rebellious child who feels they are fighting for a “cause”. The cause is their sense of offence. Thus rejection can be the seedbed for rebellion.
Not all rebels are the product of rejection. We know that the devil rebelled against God when God, who is perfect and holy, gave him no occasion for feeling “rejected”.
Some rebels are inspired by their selfishness. Others are caught in lust and greed for gain. Some have other forms of evil in their heart, such as violence, thirst for power, hatred toward good, and so on.
Yet, while there are various prompts for a person to become rebellious, it is possible that they have been moved in that direction, or pushed along a path they were already inclined to go along, by their feelings of being rejected and hurt.
Newton’s third law of motion gave science the maxim that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. And this reflects what happens with some people who are rejected. They experience the offence of being rejected, falsely accused, neglected or abused by those who should love them, and so they respond by issuing an offence back toward them.
The “equal and opposite reaction” is their rebellion. They respond as if they are saying, “You think you can hurt me, well I can hurt you too!”
Sin is Sin
I need to point out here that “pain does not justify sin”. There is a popular notion promoted in western culture today that people do wrong things because they were virtually forced to do so by the bad treatment they received.
It is as if offenders are not to be seen as “guilty” any more, but as victims of circumstances.
But please be aware that “sin is Sin!” If someone experiences rejection, that is never a justification for sin. Rebellion is “as the sin of witchcraft” to God.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1Samuel 15:23a
No matter what any of us go through we have no alternative but to live in the fear of God and to be holy, as our God is holy. Our experiences are never an excuse for sin.
Some rebels develop into that course by first feeling hurt by parents or those who should love them. This breaks their relationship with their parents and promotes their desire to hurt others and to rebel against authority. Their initial rebellion may be passive, simply being tardy in doing what they are told to do. They may sit down on the outside, but be standing up on the inside, so to speak.
This passive rebellion will develop into stubbornness and ultimately into open rebellion. The rebel will also be attracted to others with a similar spirit and they will associate with others who lead them into greater rebellion.
A child rarely becomes a rebel because they fell in with the wrong crowd. It is more likely that the attitudes of their heart predisposed them to associate with “birds of a feather” whch flock together.
When a parent says, “My child fell in with the wrong crowd and they are leading him into rebellion”, it is most likely that the child has been carrying a chip on his shoulder and was attracted to that crowd by his own heart.
Break the Foundation
If a child is rebellious because of their feelings of hurt and rejection, then a powerful strategy can be to neutralise or break the foundation of the child’s attitudes and actions.
Craig Hill tells in his Family Foundations course the account of parents of an openly rebellious teenager who got on their knees before him and begged him to forgive them for their rejection and their failure to be the parents he needed them to be. The boy was wonderfully transformed.
In the case of such repentance on the part of the parents, the child’s justification for their wrong behaviour is removed. If the child continues to be rebellious then you can be sure that they are simply choosing to do wrong.
The Heart Cry
You will recall from the earliest lessons in this series that God designed each of us to be loved. We are love receptors and our heart cry is to be loved. We want to be loved unconditionally.
This is just as true for the rebel. Each rebel seeks to be loved, just as much as you do. Whatever has prompted them to rebel against authority or to embrace a lifestyle that offends and confronts others they are just as much in need of God’s love as anyone else.
They need the love of God poured into their heart, just as much as anyone else. However, they may have become hardened against it and be very hard to reach.
If you have a loved one who is trapped in rebellion, prayerfully seek to find ways to bring the love of God into their heart.
No Reward for Rebellion
Tragically for the rebel their rebellion brings them no relief from their inner pain. Hurting someone else does not remove our own wound. Retaliation does not pour oil into our wounds or soothe our soul.
And revenge and retaliation are God’s property. When a rebel takes up the cause of repaying or hurting those they believe have wronged them, they steal from God. God says that vengeance belongs to Him. When people take up that right they invoke God’s wrath against themselves.
“Dearly beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
Break the Witchcraft
We saw earlier, from 1Samuel 15:23, that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”. That has several significant applications.
The rebel is unprotected from God’s grace. They have stepped into the devil’s domain and are outside of the grace which God has for their life.
They are also practicing witchcraft against those they are rebelling against. It is as if there is a witch practicing witchcraft in their parents’ home.
So, parents and those confronting the rebellious, take time to break the power of the witchcraft being exercised against you.