Our fast-moving, competitive culture loves big stars, huge shows, icons, and movements with global impact, influence, and power. If you want to say, do, or change anything, you’d better shout loud—louder than everything else.
But this isn’t all new. In fact, it’s not so different from the world Jesus came into.
In Luke 2:1-7, we read that well-known story of Jesus being born in Bethlehem. The narrative is set in the reign of Augustus Caesar. In the century before Christ, the Roman Empire appeared as the new world power, globalizing (connecting) the whole world that was known at that time.
It is during the reign of this vast global power, a fast-moving empire with big names, broad vision, world expansion through roads and cities, the entertainment of “bread and circus,” and a false sense of peace known as Pax Romana, that the Almighty Creator of the Universe arrives.
How does He come? Trending on social media, with the largest number of views ever, the most posts and retweets in history, lights shining, guns blazing, led screens and fireworks? Nope.
I love how Luke tells it. During a census of the “whole world” (Luke 2:1), when the Roman Empire had all the attention and control, he describes the simplest and poorest birth of a child: “…she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
The unassuming way that Jesus comes into the world is in sharp contrast with the Roman global power. He doesn’t come knocking down the front door, sounding trumpets, fixing all the problems and toppling all the dictators. He comes through the back door, in poverty and dirt, in quietness, bringing an irresistible and unstoppable rebellion. Jesus comes into the world as a rebel, bringing a peace this world could not offer.
So will the revolution be televised? Are the channels, platforms, and influence the world considers great as important for us? It seems Jesus brought about a different kind of change and through different means.
Power, as this world would have it, puts man in the center and functions by survival of the fittest. The things that matter the most in life are forgotten, and those that don’t really matter at all become the most important. God is put in a box called “spirituality” or “religion”, a question of personal opinion, while the man-made things of life - like social status, consumer products, our own desires and ambitions - are worshiped, as if having the greatest significance.
But not for you and me. We are part of a tradition of rebels, started by Jesus. Following Jesus means participating in this rebellion that says no to the gods and Caesars of this world, and kneels to Jesus alone.
So I say, be the voice of rebellion; don’t conform! Put God in the center. Don’t run after the things of this world, trying to make it in human eyes, but live to please God. Find your identity and purpose in Jesus, so you are free to invest in deep and real relationships, serving others with your time, attention, and commitment.
Being that voice of rebellion also means responding to the questions and needs around us, communicating in a way that resonates with people’s hearts. Rather than this frantic pursuit of being on top of the latest trends, we need to know how to respond to the questions and despair these trends are bringing to the surface, whatever they may be. It’s knowing how to subvert those trends and be a movement that truly brings change.
As a follower of Jesus, you are part of this tradition—a tradition of rebels.