I happen to be a fan of the Irish pop band The Corrs , and have been since my early teen years when the band debuted. Each of their albums has usually included at least one instrumental song, and the instrumental song of their mo st successful album in the United States, In Blue, was called “Rebel Heart.” Now, the Corrs are an Irish band made up of four very talented siblings, and in many of their songs they show a high degree of patriotism for their Irish homeland and its struggles. A great many of those struggles have involved a long history of rebellion against overlords from England and then Great Britain. In proclaiming themselves as patriotic children of Eire, the Corrs were commenting that having an Irish heart is tantamount to having a rebel heart, and the implications of that are something that I would like to explore. Most of us would not likely say so openly that we have rebel hearts, and a great many people feel little interest in being rebellious, at least consciously, even if their lives demonstrate that they are in rebellion against something.
This morning, our retired pastor gave a sermon that asked and answered some thoughtful questions about what it would take for there to be a people willing to be ruled by God. It is fairly obvious that a great many people do not wish to be ruled by God. There are some who have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge, thinking that they are following God when they are not. Others have within their minds an idea of God that allows them to live the way they want to live without a great deal of difficulty or the threat of unpleasant judgment. Still others refuse even to accept the idea of a cosmic lawmaker and judge who can and will hold people accountable for rebellion against His laws and ways. In all, the minister found five different types of people based on the accounts of scripture that were not at present willing to be ruled by God. Given that these types are all bad, there was no attempt made to place these in any kind of best to worst order or to generalize the response of people in any of those camps to the tribulations and judgments of God.
It is easy to point the finger at other people when it comes to being rebels against the authority of God. Perhaps it is too easy to see how others rebel against God, and easy for us to justify ourselves. I often wonder if I am the sort of person who is easy to rule. I tend to think of myself as being a somewhat difficult person to rule sometimes. I tend to be a person of quiet but insistent stubbornness, and if someone wants me to go in a direction that I’m not willing to go in, I will dig in and simply refuse to change. This definitely has caused problems for me before. On the other hand, though, I don’t think of myself as someone who tends to make a big fuss out of the way that I am, so most of the time it seems that I am able to get along well enough with authorities so long as they are not bothered by my writing, which is more or less a non-negotiable item. Being a bit stubborn and stiff-necked as I am, I wonder if I bring on a great deal of unnecessary suffering that someone who was less stubborn would be able to successfully avoid.
If the role of tribulation is to soften the heart and make it less rebellious and less harsh, then perhaps that would explain a great deal of the suffering that I endure in life, and that of many other people as well. Those who are the most wise are able to learn from gentle and subtle hints, and those who are not wise at all refuse to learn with even the harshest judgment. Most of us likely sit somewhere in between, one would hope. One would not want to be stubborn and stiff-necked to the point where one was ensuring one’s own destruction because one had a rebel heart. The tribe of Dan, for example, is said to have waited for their salvation in large part because their own heart was hardened in the ways of idolatry and rebellion. Perhaps the same thing may be said of some of us as well, and much potential is wasted simply because people cannot get out of their own way. It is a sobering thought to think of how much trouble we bring ourselves because we do not let ourselves be ruled by God or by other authorities.
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