Monday, January 7, 2013

"Going against the grain until the end...."

 The title of this blog is a lyric from a song I used to listen to often in my long-haired, headbanging days of old - "Damage, Inc." by Metallica. I always enjoyed this particular song as it has some pretty intense guitar playing and drumming, but even as I began to move on musically I never forgot some of the lyrics, that line in particular.

As I have become stronger over the past year and a half since everything happened to me I have come to realize that it is my mission in particular and in a lot of ways, the mission of God's people in general to "go against the grain." Modern society sets its own expectations of people nowadays, and people set their own expectations of each other. Often, these expectations are not morally right, but people are expected to live up to them anyway.

This is where God's people are called to be different, or to "go against the grain". We are called to live by the Spirit of God, not the expectations and demands of man. Living by the Spirit and therefore going against the grain when necessary can have consequences as you are almost guaranteed to ruffle people's feathers and cause them to lash out at you for not acting in the way that they think that you should act. Going against the grain can get messy for that very reason and it can require personal sacrifice on the part of those willing to stand against the tide. It also requires terrible risk as you risk offending those with the power to hurt you. But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

Something I've heard over the years that constantly irritates me to no end is this concept taught in church that rebellion is "evil" and "wrong" and should be avoided at all costs. If you look closely in the Bible, it's full of rebels. One of the main rebels that holds a very important place in Scripture was the prophet Jeremiah. This guy had rebellion down to a fine art. Every other so-called "prophet" in the nation was prophesying prosperity, God's blessing, good fortune and good health upon the people. These people weren't hearing from God. They were telling the people what they wanted to hear, and in turn, keeping everybody happy through their prosperity doctrine.

Jeremiah, however, was truly listening to God. And the REAL word of the Lord to the people was not a word of prosperity at all - but words foretelling destruction and judgment upon Israel, due to their sins, selfishness and stubbornness. God was angry at His people because they wouldn't listen and God was equally as angry at those who told lies to the people in terms of false prophecies to keep them happy. Jeremiah knew the risks involved of being the only prophet foretelling destruction while everyone else foretold peace and prosperity. He probably could have ignored the burning in his heart and gone along with them and kept everyone happy and had himself well thought of by others. But I don't think he could have lived with himself if he'd done that.

He knew the risks and he did it anyway. Needless to say, the people weren't pleased. He faced continual persecution in nearly every sense from people including being thrown into a well in the hope that he would die. But nothing stopped him. He continued to rebel against the established order of the day and continued to go against the grain of false teaching and prosperity by speaking the truth about what God was saying to His people - that they would be destroyed for their sins. Jeremiah's word eventually came true - and Israel was overthrown by the Babylonians, who ironically chose to release Jeremiah from imprisonment and showed him great kindness.

If that's not rebellion I don't know what is. But it was a righteous rebellion. Jeremiah did not become world famous through making friends. If he had passively gone along with the false prophets of the day, he may have been remembered in the bible but for the wrong reasons. His story lives on to this day as an example of sacrifice and strength by someone with integrity who cared about doing God's will regardless of what it cost him and who stood in his way. That's a man of character - someone I aspire to be. A man willing to go against the grain for the sake of what's right.

I've learned so much on this subject recently. I've had to learn to stand and go against the grain many times and it's cost me several friendships. But it's not going to stop me doing what's right and I'd rather be hated for doing the right thing and obeying God than be loved for sitting back, being passive and silent and never saying boo to a goose. God has told me directly to speak very firmly to some people who have wronged me recently and I strongly believe are still doing wrong in their own lives and ignoring God's word to them. I resisted doing this for a long time because I was scared and because I didn't want to go against the grain. God's words to me were three, simple words that I don't think I will ever forget - "Get over yourself!"

It would be easy for me to be passive like I used to be and sit back and say "God bless you" to everyone, even those who claim to call themselves Christians and are knowingly doing wrong but refusing to stop doing it. I never used to think it was my job to stand against people the way that I have been doing so recently. But now I realize that although you need to make sure God is behind it and you're not just lashing out of your frustration, taking a stand against the grain can be the right thing to do and something that will simply burn inside your heart and become heavier until you do it - same as it was with Jeremiah.

So the choice is yours, readers. There are times when you just know that something you can see is wrong and someone needs to speak out against it. Will you sit back, be passive and let it happen or get over yourself, go against the grain and speak out, then walk away with a clear conscience knowing you've done the right thing in God's eyes?

Take care.


  1. Hey, Don't forget Jesus was a rebel. I mean look at his behavour in the temple = over turning tables indeed. Interesting perspective on what it means to be a rebel and a real challenge!

  2. Thanks Deb, and absolutely you are right! He was a rebel in the right sense and for the right reasons!