Were you a questioning child or an obedient child?
Did you quietly listen to what adults told you to do, no complaints? Or did you constantly ask ‘why’? If you had a different opinion, did you say so? Or did you convince yourself why your adult was right anyway?
I was a people pleaser, and obedience was the easiest way I knew how to please. If an adult told me to jump, my only question was how high.
It’s a good trait. Or so I thought. That’s why I carried that tendency into adulthood. My default is obedience, acceptance. It’s challenging for me to even come up with questions.
But is that really such a good thing?
The rebellious forty-year-old
No. The answer is no, or at least, that’s what Prince Jonathan might have answered.
I imagine Jonathan grew up a goody-two-shoes. He was the oldest and the heir to his father’s throne. He had a lot of responsibility placed on his shoulders at a young age. He wanted to prove himself. He wanted to make his daddy smile.
But that all began to change as Jonathan got older and his father’s behavior got more erratic. It started with Jonathan making a bold decision to launch a stealth attack on a Philistine outpost – alone. Soon after, he publicly questioned his father’s irresponsible decisions leading his army.
And in 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan is on his father’s bad side again – but this time it’s because of love.
That love is for his best friend David, also known as King Saul’s biggest threat and thus bitterest enemy. Saul has attempted multiple times to kill David, and now David is fed up. He comes to Jonathan, who, for some reason, tries to convince David that Saul won’t try to kill him a seventh time (verse 2).
But he sees how scared David is. He knows how tormented his father has been. So he makes a decision.
For the first time ever, Jonathan actively schemes against his father.
He and David create a plan to test Saul’s feelings towards David. If Saul passes the test, great. If he fails, Jonathan will help David escape.
So what was the result?
The wrong right thing
Cut to two days later. Jonathan is alone, and sick with grief.
His father failed the test.
Not only that, but he tried to kill Jonathan. His first son. His pride and joy. He had thrown a spear at him, furious that Jonathan had helped David.
Determined still, Jonathan gets up and finishes the job. He warns his best friend. He sends him off with tears. And then he goes home to face his disintegrated relationship with his father.
Jonathan experienced firsthand the pain of disobeying someone he used to look up to. But he didn’t falter. He didn’t change his mind.
Because he knew that his father was wrong.
And although it’s probably not as obvious as in Jonathan’s situation, we are all surrounded by wrong. There is wrong in our churches. There is wrong sometimes in our family. There is wrong in our teachers, in our friends, in people we used to trust, in people we are supposed to obey.
The easy thing is to ignore it, sidestep it, or even try to convince ourselves that wrong is right.
But the difficult thing, the right thing to do is to question, to challenge, and maybe even to speak up and loudly disagree.
Maybe it will result in pain or rejection or grief, but ultimately, it will also result in what’s right.
“Only I can be your standard of right vs. wrong.”
If other people, even those in places of authority, are liable to be wrong, then so are we. Thankfully, we have a trustworthy failsafe against arrogance and arguments:
The word of God.
Jonathan disobeyed out of love. And we too, must disobey out of love for God, His word, and His people.
We must disobey when what authority says is opposite what God’s words say.
We must disobey when what authority does threatens those that God created and loves.
We must disobey when what authority represents is antithetical to who God is.
How do we disobey? The details and next steps are up to God. He can guide us just like He guided and helped Prince Jonathan.
But the bottom line, the core and root of it all is a decision. It’s a decision to obey God first and foremost and only. It’s a decision to commit, to stick with Him, to stake everything on the belief that God is truth.
So? Are you ready to disobey?
What do you think? Who or what should we disobey today?