But there are dangers in getting too much mileage out of this rebel talk. Sure, Jesus was a rebel. Yes, Christianity is subversive. But that should not be the end goal of our faith. We shouldn’t be enlisting young hipsters to join the cause because they think Jesus is a Che Guevara-esque revolutionary. They should be joining the cause because they need God’s grace, not because they want to take down some system or join some romantic revolutionary cause. A faith built upon rebellion is, at the end of the day, not going to be very sustainable. We can’t be a church primarily organized around fighting against things.
This is an idea that Donald Miller expressed in an article in the New York Times: that we have to be devoted followers of Christ first, and “rebels” second:
If you’re a Christian, you need to obey God. And if you obey God, you’re going to be seen as a rebel, both within American church culture and popular culture. But that’s not the point. The point is to obey God.
Indeed, of all the marketing tactics wannabe hip churches might be engaged in, “Jesus was a rebel” is one of the more legitimate, but it also can backfire in the worst ways. Churches that focus too much on “Hey! The gospel is subversive!” may undercut the fact that the gospel is the gospel. It is the Good News—the best news—for the world, significant and life-changing in a way that mere “subversion” could never be.