James Dean starred in a 1955 movie, "Rebel Without A Cause", depicting a bunch of emotionally confused and morally rebellious youth. Dean portrayed a youth arriving at a new high school, falling for a girl, fighting with others who bullied him, and totally rebellious to both his parents and school officials. It was "cutting edge" back then, pointing out the secret desires of the teenage youth of the time, the "not so perfect" relationships of those 50's parents who didn't have a home life as perfect as June and Ward Cleaver, and the shift in social "norms" just about to bust out into full force in the 60's. Defiance and emotionally charged "bad choices" are observed repeatedly throughout the film, but the truth portrayed on the screen in the death of his friend is really a reminder to all that without warning life can turn upside down. In truth, your life is not your own - it is merely on loan. Life choices may be made in haste, but the consequences will be around a long time to come.
Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders; don’t be defiant or mutinous.
Without warning your life can turn upside down, and who knows how or when it might happen? (Proverbs 24:21-22 MSG)
Defiance ranges from open discontent with someone or something, to outright daring and bold resistance. We get the little saying "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I am standing up on the inside" from this idea of being a little rebellious or defiant to authority. It is not "open", nor is it outright bold, yet is just as damaging to our character! Inward defiance is dangerous, for it sets down roots and begins to grow until it eventually finds a way of becoming expressed in our actions and attitudes.
Rebellion may encompass some of the same meaning, but it also brings into play this questioning of tradition - challenging the "norms" of values which have been handed down. A rebel resists control by anyone other than himself. There is no desire to inward or outwardly conform. A rebel seeks to take over control - to assume the authority belonging to another - because he believes he can do it better.
Our last of the principles put forth in this list of thirty principles by which we are to live in order to have a sound foundation for interpersonal relationships, a right respect for authority, and a proper focus on the one who really matters deals with the tendency of our heart to resist control. Remember - our thirty principles began with the idea of these being "tested principles" by which we will be able to live "accountable" lives. If you look back at these principles, you will see a tie between how we treat others and ourselves as it applies to our respect for the authority we give to God in our lives. If we won't submit to his authority as primary, all these sayings are merely that - sayings. If we take his authority as that which is the only one worth submitting to, we are on our way to developing a strong foundation for living thoroughly accountable lives.
No wonder Solomon ends with the attitude of heart and mind which reflects our own desire to be in control! It is a dangerous thing to hold onto the reins of our life so tightly that we become "rebels" and "deviants". In fact, he warns clearly that our lives will be turned upside down if we continue to hold so tightly to our own ways of doing things - the need to be in control overriding all sense and sensibility. Authority is evident all around us and what we choose to do with it matters. How we choose to submit or resist is determined not in the immediacy of the moment, but in the "set" of the heart and mind in the long term. When our heart is right with God, we find rebellions against authority (even his) as a little more difficult. Focus determines heart direction - stay focused on Jesus and your heart's tendency toward rebellion and deviance will soon begin to have less pull in your life. Just sayin!