Monday, November 12, 2012

Is Rebellion Natural For A Teen?

Rebellion is natural to our flesh. Since the days of Adam it is natural in our human nature to rebel against authority, especially God's. So of course it is only natural in our flesh for teenagers to rebel against their parents. Parents are the ultimate authority in a child's life so if there is going to be any form of rebellion it is going to be aimed at those parents. It can be more complicated than that but this is the truth of the matter in simplified form. However, as Christians we are a new creation, we no longer live according to our flesh but by the Spirit of God. Rebellion is not part of our nature any more.

I hear from teens all the time who are struggling in their relationship with their parents. Sometimes it is because the teens are being selfish and self-centered and other times because the teen simply wants to follow Jesus. Sometimes parents are totally lost in selfishness and others are extremely opposed to Jesus. What then? What is a Christian to do?

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

This is part of God's address concerning submission. In the same way a wife is to submit to her husband and a husband is to love his wife, a child is to submit to his parents and his parents are to love the child. Those are big words, submit and love, and if you haven't read my two previous posts you should to understand what the God means by those words.

Rebellion is not excusable in God's sight. He is responsible for all authority in this world and he has purpose for it. If the authority is not meeting his purpose God sends correction or removes it. This goes for all authority, which is hard for us to understand.

Consider Jesus when he was cornered about paying taxes to the conqueror of Israel. Caesar had invaded and conquered Israel at this time and, as is normal for any government, they taxed the people. When asked about this treatment of God's children Jesus simply said to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. No rebellion there, even against those who ruled over God's children.

No parent is perfect and often there are plenty of mistakes and misunderstandings. There can be a huge battle of the will, but, led by the Spirit, a parents' response should be one of love. But love does not mean giving into whatever a child wants just as God does not spoil us by giving what we want. If we ask for poison God will not provide it and parents are not permitted to give to a child what would harm him. Teens cannot always understand this because they are still learning, exploring, discovering the great mysteries of life. But parents can also be unfair and it is here that God is working maturity into a teens character, if they trust Jesus.

Yes, it is a matter of trust. Teens who have learned to trust Jesus with every aspect of their life are able to submit, even to the unfairness of their parents. It is for their own benefit:

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:3)

The promise for obedience is that it will go well with you and you will have a long life. If you learn to allow the Spirit to destroy the ugly spirit of rebellion in you great things will come your way. When you learn to walk in submission to God his blessings flow through you like a tremendous river. But you can't be in rebellion against authority and be submitted to God. You cannot have a divided heart.

Obedience and honour, there is no way around them when you follow Jesus. Just as he submitted to his parents when he was a child, so do children today. When he did it everyone was amazed and blessed by him. If you are a teen, you will minister more through your obedience to your parents than you will with any words you speak. In the same way, any rebellion you display will rob Jesus of his glory. Maybe not something you want to hear today but it is something you must understand.

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