Christian Living, Culture, Featured, Jesus
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Rebel against the status quo

4 min read

A few days ago, l listened to Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church talk on personal prayer, and in his message, he made this statement that “Prayer is an act of rebellion against the status quo.” This line of thought seemed out of place with the rest of his talk because his subsequent points did not match. The thought stood out on its own like a sore thumb, like a socket out of joint. The feelings it provoked in me, though, were stunning almost breathtaking, blows to the gut feelings and yet restful and comforting.

Think of this, most Christians consider prayer a nuisance, an interference, a waste of time, a break in the stride. Why pray when I could just solve this problem, when I can just send that email, tweet or Facebook post, when I can just take my wife on holiday and our marriage will come right, when I can just kiss the ring and I will get the promotion, when I can just sleep with him or her with no commitment, when I can just work myself to death to live in that suburb or drive that latest BMW series? Why pray? U domkop wena for praying, an Afrikaans and Zulu saying that means you are stupid, a dunderhead, literally you are dumb for praying and not doing something about your situation. When ego, strength, power, control, planning, etc., are celebrated, praying, a counterintuitive act goes against the grain, it’s an act of rebellion against the status quo. 

Suddenly, it seems as if that statement opened the floodgates for other ideas. I thought about what rebellion means, what status quo means and developed these thoughts.

The online dictionary defines ‘rebellion’ as the action or process of resisting authority, control or convention. It defines ‘status quo’ as the existing state of affairs. 

In rebelling against the status quo, the rebel goes against the existing state of affairs, goes against the grain, runs against the wind, defies gravity, questions the convention, etc.

Gospel acts

In view of the gospel of grace—the good news of who Jesus is, and what he has done for us, the gospel rebels against the status quo. It does. The gospel is subversive. It defies common sense. For example, when you are to reap what you sow (punishment, karma), Jesus bore your punishment and gives you his grace (unconditional love and mercy). When you are to be last, Jesus took your place, and you took his place—first. When you are to be in prison, Jesus went to prison for you and secured your freedom. When you are supposed to be sick, Jesus bore the stripes for you, and you were healed. 

The gospel is a reversal of conventional thinking. It’s no wonder the early followers of Jesus were called such a derogatory term because they couldn’t fit conventional definitions. They were square pegs in round holes. They were rebels—rebelling against the status quo. 

It follows then that gospel acts such as praying will be rebellious acts against the status quo.

Consider the following gospel acts.

  1. Prayer is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? DIY, push ahead, just do something (Nike), don’t wait, etc.
  2. Rest is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Workaholism, rat race, cheetah fast, etc.
  3. Generosity is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Stinginess, hoarding, even sometimes saving and budgeting, etc.
  4. Living by faith is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Being practical, planning, budgeting, etc. 
  5. Risk is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Safety, certainty, etc.
  6. Humility is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Pride, power, control, first, etc. 
  7. Hope is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Cynicism, fear, bitterness, negativity, etc.
  8. Fasting is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Greed, consumption, etc.
  9. Church community is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Individualism or me, mine and myself, self-made, etc.
  10. Sacrificial leadership is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Power, control and manipulation, etc. 
  11. Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Dieting, organic, Keto (check spelling)
  12. Believing the Gospel is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Morality, principles, motivation, inspiration, be a good person, be a kind person, etc. 
  13. Forgiveness and receiving forgiveness are acts of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Revenge, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc. 
  14. Joy and laughter are acts of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Apathy, anger, indifference, etc.
  15. Meekness is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Strength, power, authority, control, etc. 
  16. Creativity is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Order, Marie Kondo, etc.
  17. Diversity is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Ethno-nationalism, racism, etc. 
  18. Social justice is an act of rebellion against the status quo. Status quo? Profits, exploitation, human trafficking, child labour, gender-based violence, racism, bigotry, etc.

What if our churches became training camps for rebels, for people who will raise a fist and defy the world, defy the system, go against the grain, ‘talk to my hand’ defiance?

The greatest act of rebellion 

Ultimately, the greatest act of rebellion against the status quo was demonstrated by Jesus on the cross. On the cross, Jesus died for his enemies, us. As King, Jesus could have ordered thousands of angels who were at his disposal to annihilate us, yet, he refused to use his power. On the cross, he uttered these famous words that have echoed throughout history and to eternity, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Who does this? Who in their most vulnerable point in life cares for his enemies? Jesus went against the grain, rebelled against the status quo. He did it for us. 

In Jesus dying for you, he stood on the world’s stage, raised his fist and defied the world. The world was baying for your blood, Jesus took your place. We deserved punishment and judgment but God gave us grace on Jesus’ account. We deserved to hear, “Throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” instead, we hear, “You good and faithful servant enter into my joy.” We received what we didn’t deserve. Grace was and is still the greatest act of rebellion against the status quo. 

So Christian, go out into the world and rebel against the status quo. Go out and live out the gospel. Stick out like a sore thumb. Go left when everyone is going right. Take the less-travelled road. 

That’s what grace looks like.

Photo by julio casado on Unsplash

  

This entry was posted in: Christian Living, Culture, Featured, Jesus

by

Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.

2 Comments

  1. Yes! Love is the greatest act of rebellion and Jesus is our example. What I see in the Church these days grieves my heart. Churches want to be popular so bad they accept sexual perversion, immorality and secularism. I pray, that’s all I can do. That’s my act of rebellion. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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