Acts 26:14–15 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.
1. A long stick with a pointed end used for prodding animals.
2. An agent or means of prodding or urging; a stimulus.
Ah, the ultimate image of rebellion. It's like when a parent tells a child not to touch the hot pan, what does the kid do? They grab it and get hurt.
Kicking against the goads is like that. Imagine begin an ox pulling a plow. The master is using a goad (a cattle prod, if you will.) to get you to go where he wants you to go, but you, being a rebellious and disobedient ox, start to kick. Who do you think kicking against the cattle prod hurts? Surely, it doesn't hurt the master, it hurts the ox.
I am a youth pastor. Last night I saw Saul. He was right there in front of me in the form of an 18 year old kid. Like Saul, he had grown up in church. Unlike Saul, he had fallen away from the faith the last few years. (Saul never fell away from the faith, he just killed Christians in the name of Judaism.)
This young man and a friend came to the youth group for the first time last night. They both sat in back and were as close to the door as you can possibly be. At that point the difference between the two became apparent.
Let me explain, first, I am not a normal youth pastor. I don't, for the most part, just get up and read a passage and talk about it. I like to, on occasion, act out a parable or something like that. Last night I taught on Matthew 25, the Parable of the Ten Virgins. I had a couple girls act out the rolls of the foolish and wise virgins, and a couple guys act out the rolls of the bridegroom and the herald for the bridegroom, and I was the humble, yet exceedingly talented narrator :)
As I started the mayhem, and it was truly mayhem, this young mans friend came up and joined the rest of the group. He was getting into the way this lesson was being taught.
Now the young man I am talking about though, got even closer to the door, and after I was done with the narrative he got up and walked out. He came back a couple minutes later. Sat for a few minutes and walked out again. Rinse and repeat.
I talked to him after the class, and he apologized for leaving, but, he told me he can't handle religion. I asked why. He told me about growing up in church and how his mom really beat religion into him (metaphorically beat of course, not literally). So now he is rebelling against that which his mom thrust on him.
Rebellion is a funny thing. You think you are rebelling against bondage, but all you are doing is getting yourself bound up all the more tight. Most of the time, the thing you are rebelling against is the very thing that could, indeed, give you freedom.
If you are in a spiral of rebellion, I want to encourage you to step out of that cycle and make peace with that thing you are rebelling against. It may just be the thing that sets you free.