District Fellowship News
May, June 2010
- one who dissents from an accepted moral code or convention of
behavior, dress, etc.
Rebel is a word that usually has bad connotations. Whether we use it as a noun: That guy is quite a rebel, or we use it as a verb: Let’s rebel against the establishment, it always seems to imply doing something bad in reaction to something good. In the Civil War the soldiers from the southern states were called rebels, because the northern states wanted to preserve the union, and those in the south wanted to secede from it. Citizens have rebelled against their governments; subject states have rebelled against their rulers; children have rebelled against their parents; and civilization has rebelled against God. And yet rebelling does not have to be a negative activity. Recently, at our District Youth Convention, our guest speaker encouraged the students to be rebels, individuals who stood up for what was right and true, disagreeing with the accepted moral code and behavior of their peers.
In the book of Daniel, we find a story that shows this positive kind of rebel. Daniel and other young Jewish exiles were chosen to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. They entered a world where the availability of all the most decadent foods, drinks, and entertainments were available. Their upbringing had taught them to eat properly, to reverence and trust in God, and to stay true to their moral code. When the King ordered that they be given access to all the foods on his table, that they be required to indulge in the debauchery of the court, they rebelled. But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods….“Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” (Daniel 1:8, 12, 13; NLT) Daniel and his three friends chose to rebel against Babylon’s accepted code of behavior. They chose instead to follow God’s accepted code of behavior.
Being a rebel can be a really bad thing when your rebellion is against the principles of God. That’s what got the world in trouble in the first place. The sin of Satan was one of rebellion, wanting to put himself in God’s place. Adam and Eve rebelled when they violated the instructions not to eat of the tree of good and evil. Many times rebellion leads us down the path of sin. But we can also rebel against sin. We can decide that following the norms or codes that have been laid out and espoused by those who have no desire to serve God is no longer the right way to live. Daniel and his friends made that choice. They would not eat from the King’s table. They would not drink the King’s wine. For them rebellion against the king’s moral code meant that they would be following God’s code.
Later on in the story of Daniel, his three friends rebel against an edict from the King once again. In the previous situation, things worked out, they ate vegetables and drank water, got stronger and healthier than all the other candidates, and the King was happy with the results. But this time when they refused to worship before the King’s statue, the price of their rebellion became evident. They would be bound and thrown into a furnace heated so hot that the men who threw them into the furnace would die from the heat. There are consequences to being a rebel, sometimes very costly ones.
Just a few weeks ago, the BYU women’s rugby team won their Sweet Sixteen match and were scheduled to play their next game for a chance to reach the Final Four. The only problem was the game was scheduled for Sunday. Because they believe Sunday is a holy day, the team chose to forfeit the game instead of following the accepted code of behavior. They lost their chance to play on towards a national championship. They stood up for their beliefs, they chose to be rebels.
What about us? If we truly are going to be representatives of God in this world, we need to be rebels. The accepted moral code of today violates God’s design. Dress and behavior emulate immoral values, not Godly ones. Be a Daniel in your world, one who says “I don’t follow your code, I follow God’s code.” There may be consequences; you may need to turn down opportunities, others may ridicule or attack you, but the decision will be worth the cost. Six hundred and fifty students went home to their communities from convention determined to be rebels for God. How about you? Be a REBEL.