Did you happen to see the video by Jefferson Behke entitled “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” on YouTube? It depicts Behke rhyming about the purity of Jesus and the hypocrisy of the church. It argues that Jesus preached love, but religion is rigid, phony, and stale. He insists: “Religion puts you in bondage, but Jesus sets you free.” The video went totally viral with over 18.3 million hits at the time I am writing this post.
Thanks to our real-time world, critiques of Bethke’s statements and assertions piled in right away. Many of the respondents were older, much more mature theologians and church leaders who identified discrepancies in both Bethke’s interpretations and theologizing. In online exchange after exchange, Bethke responded to critics – those who were “pushing back” on him and his line of thinking – in ways marked by humility, genuineness, and graciousness. He was magnanimous, for sure, and this spoke generally well of his character. He also for all intent and purpose just folded. In response to one blogger Bethke wrote: “I wanted to say I really appreciate your article, man. It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100 percent.”
This reminds me of some new church leaders who are initially passionate about a thought, strategy, perspective, or value and then subsequently retreat or “cave” when they receive push back from a coach or financial stakeholder or even a strong-willed attendee. I am not meaning to advocate a mindless, stubborn, prideful stance against those who disagree and fail to “fall in line” behind you. Not at all. But understand, conflict is not inherently bad. Sometimes conflict is a gift from God that if processed in a healthy, mature, and biblical fashion will generate innovation and break through that may otherwise never have been experienced.
However, rebellion against something without a rigorous, God-honoring alternative is just a feeble spasm. Effective and prophetic rebellion is more than simply expressing your personal feelings. Godly rebellion against a viewpoint, position, or plan means replacing one set of authoritative constructs with a better set. Remember that any existing “authority” does not repress the passion of the heart. To the contrary, that “authority” or “standard” should be leveraged to give the passions of your heart focus and a means to transform your deep conviction into change to the glory of God.
Pushing back is often times the key to moving ahead.