Summary: We rebel against God when we refuse to learn anything new, when we resist His love, and when we refrain from telling others about Christ.
Parenting is the toughest job in the world. Nobody has it harder than parents. Amen?
Now this insight didn’t come out of a book somewhere. This is not just some Freudian theory, cooked up in the psychology lab. I learned this truth, that parenting is the toughest job in the world, in another setting. Do you know how I figured out how hard it is to be a parent? Can you guess?
You think I learned about parenting by being a parent? You suppose I got my schooling on the difficulties of parenting by raising two children, right? Wrong. Wrong. I already knew all about it. I already had my graduate degree in parental problems. Why? From what source?
From having parents. From being a son. There is very little that I experienced in raising our two that I had not already pioneered as a little brat on my own. Long before our children were born I knew the key concept in this relationship: rebellion. Rebellion. Kids rebel against their parents. They just do. That’s the way it is. In fact, I’d worry a little about somebody who doesn’t rebel. Rebellion is a part of growing up.
I was talking yesterday with some young parents in our church. They said they had been trying to get their baby to say something close to "Mama" or "Daddy". I was reminded of the fact that my father used to say that my first word was neither Mama nor Daddy. My first word was "No." No, as in I won’t. No, as in I ain’t-a gonna do it. [That’s Kentuckyspeak]. No, as in no, no, no, no, no. Do I know rebellion or what?
It shouldn’t have been such a source of commentary, then, when, as a four-year-old, I knocked on my grandmother’s door and rang her doorbell repeatedly, and, when she let me in, I said, "I don’t want to come in." Rebellion. Just for the sake of rebellion. Resistance and rebellion is part of the human condition. It’s who we are. And we all know about it, don’t we?
Now if parenting is the toughest job in the world, because of rebellion, think how God feels, with millions, billions of rebellious children.
No Biblical writer is more clear or more explicit about this rebellion than the prophet Ezekiel. This priest and prophet, who lived in the waning days of the Kingdom of Judah, six hundred years before Christ, saw it all so clearly. Because of the images he uses, I like to call this passage Ezekiel’s report on the anatomy of rebellion. The anatomy of rebellion. Listen for the images of the human body as I read.
The anatomy of rebellion. Ezekiel uses three parts of the body to interpret what rebellion against God means. He speaks of the forehead; the heart; and the mouth.
Ezekiel begins his anatomy of rebellion with the forehead. The hard forehead. We’d call it the numb skull. "The house of Israel are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead"
Rebellion against God begins with the issue of knowledge. Rebellion against God involves resistance to new truths. A hard forehead, a hard head, is one which won’t entertain new thoughts, won’t approach new information. A hard forehead is one which resists every new idea and rebels against every new insight. Ezekiel begins his analysis of the anatomy of rebellion by noting that God’s people are very often not open to anything new. We have hard foreheads, thick skulls. Our rebellion against God begins with resisting God’s truth.
Have you ever heard anyone say something like this: "I don’t know very much about the Bible, but .... "? I don’t know very much about the Bible, but anyway here’s what I think churches should do. I don’t know any Christian theology, but anyway I don’t agree with this or that? We seem to want to operate out of a base of ignorance rather than out of serious knowledge.
To me, there is nothing quite so inconsistent as an ignorant Christian. I believe that Christians have the obligation to learn all we can learn about God’s world and God’s truth. I no longer have any patience with folks who will say, "I don’t know much about the Bible", but who will then proceed to lecture me about what’s wrong with the way the church does business. I’ve about concluded that that’s just a smokescreen, that to be ignorant and proud of it is just a way of rebelling against God. If we will not hear God’s word, then that means we will not hear God. If we will not explore God’s truth, then that means we will not explore God Himself.
I wonder, do we have a hard forehead about God’s word? Did you know that men and women bled and died to give us this Bible? Do you know how much suffering went in just to giving us the Scriptures in our own English language? In the 13th Century they burned John Wyclif at the stake because he was determined that every plowboy in England should be able to read the Scriptures. But we, with the Bible available with high-speed presses and CD-ROM’s and all the rest … still we can’t get here for Sunday School? We can’t get out for Wednesday evening Bible study? We can’t read serious books or discuss substantial issues? I’m afraid we do have the hard forehead disease!