“Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:6b-7 (NKJV)
For many years, Burger King waged a very successful advertising campaign based on the slogan: “Have it your way.” We live in a perpetual “me at the center of the known universe” culture. Our current culture is based on “we want what we want, when we want it,” without thought for God, others, or in many cases, the consequences.
During a recent conversation with my daughter, she told me that she is becoming increasingly aware of how it affects others when we sin–how it affects our family, our friends, our neighbors, and even those we don’t know. We tend to think that sin is a solitary decision, without fallout, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Sin has a ripple effect, both in our lives and in the lives of others. Sin “always costs us more than we want to pay and takes us farther than we want to go,” leaving us with collateral damage.
Not so long ago a friend told me about a decision she had made many years ago while standing at one of life’s proverbial “forks in the road.” She had been in a situation she desperately wanted to get out of. God had told her what He wanted her to do–to stay where she was, to walk it out and to work it out, but she did not want to do that. During a “talk” she had with God on the subject, she told Him: “I don’t care what it costs me, I want out.” And she walked out. It is no surprise that this decision cost her much more than she had anticipated and wanted to pay. Just as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their rebellion–their generation never entering the promised land–she went through many difficult times that likely could have been avoided had she done what God had wanted, when He had asked it of her. Each of us has many examples of the same in our own lives; the years littered with the cost of our rebellion.
There is an old saying: “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” When we seek things in life that are contrary to God’s perfect will for us, the results are predictable. God has given us a free will. He will allow us to head down the wrong path if we choose to do so. Every time we choose to rebel, we chose death. Rebellion sets us at the center of our lives and not God. When we put our desires ahead of His, we set events in motion that affect more than us. If this rebellion is left unchecked, it eventually leads to the “tyranny of self”–a miserable end, to be sure.
There are multiple examples in history of cultures that have allowed rebellion against God to foment until it became intractable. We are again living in such a time. The beginnings of rebellion in the 1950′s, culminated in the mass rebellion of the 60′s and 70′s against the biblically based moral value system of our parents and grandparents. The cries of: “I don’t want to grow up,” “If it feels good do it,” and “No one is going to tell me what to do,” still resonate today. Historically, it was expected that a young man or young lady would take on adult responsibilities in their teens. Now it is common not to make that transition until the mid-twenties (or even later), putting off maturity and extending the childhood years.
The maturation process requires changing the focus from self to others. The process of putting aside what you want for the benefit of others is not easy. These days “fun” is the hallmark of most of what we want to do–everything must have an “entertainment value.” The traditional concepts of responsibility, duty, hard work, and obedience are rapidly being silenced both in popular culture and in the Church.
A Bible teacher we particularly enjoy listening to has put it this way: “When you are out of your place, you are out of His grace. When you are out of His grace, you fall on your face.” God, in His sovereignty, has ordained a “place” for each of us. When we choose to go our own way, we bring much pain and heartache not only into our own lives, but also into the lives of those who love us. Rebellion removes the grace of God from us–our acts of rebellion, forming an ever-lengthening chain; linked to each other and progressively taking us farther and farther away from what He has planned for us.
I don’t know about you, but I have enough trouble in life without purposely making decisions that remove the grace of God from my life. I want the decisions I make to line up with the Word of God, sowing life and grace into those around me and to my descendants.
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19b NKJV)
Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Johnson
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