Discerning Resistance vs. Foolish Rebellion

A few weeks ago, I talked about what it looks like to have discerning resistance when it comes to things in our world that we know are wrong. As I’ve reflected on the elements of discerning resistance, I’ve realized that our culture has no concept of what this is. We have become, in every corner of our society, a people of foolish rebellion. Just to remind us of what I’m talking about, discerning resistance is respectful rather than disrespectful. Even when others haven’t earned respect, God calls us to resist respectfully. It’s also intentional rather than reactionary. What I see from liberals and conservatives, church-goers and the unchurched is often fear-driven reactions to what they hear—regardless if what they hear is accurate or not. As Christ followers, we don’t have the right to blindly react but are called to intentionally respond as salt and light in a bland and dark world. Discerning resistance is also surrendered rather than controlling. I love the lyrics to the chorus of In Control by Hillsong,

I lift my hands to Heaven
Here my heart surrendered
I tell my soul again
You are Lord of all
And though the seas are raging
You will speak and tame them
In You I find my rest
You are in control

The world tries to tell us that our rest is found in controlling, but God says repeatedly in His Word that our rest is in surrender. Finally, discerning resistance accepts the consequences, good or bad, for obeying God and doing things His way. The defiance prevalent in our society makes it a very volatile place to live. When people don’t get their way, they act as if their defiance is noble. Martin Lloyd Jones, a British pastor, commented this way on the tension and violence in the world, “Why are there wars in the world? Why is there this constant international tension? What is the matter with the world? Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men? According to the Beatitudes, there is only one answer to these questions—sin. Nothing else; just sin.” That’s pretty simply put and pretty accurate. This whole idea of discerning resistance is God’s way for His people to deal with a world that uses sin as its mode of operation.

I’ve come to a realization recently. I’ve realized that I have chosen to be silently angry about things I don’t like for a long time. I think I did this because I just don’t like to argue with people. What God is teaching me is that the radical love and acceptance He calls me to is not the same thing as radical silence and brooding. God has called me to lead in discerning resistance. I believe He’s calling us to model discerning resistance to others. It will encourage some and offend others; but honestly, that’s okay because God has told us to be salt and light. My challenge to you is this: search your heart and evaluate your methods. God has called you to action; you just need to make sure you move forward in His design rather than sin’s design.

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