You may have read Franklin Graham’s 1995 autobiography, Rebel With a Cause—Finally Comfortable Being Graham. In his own words, Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham, tells the story of his own rebellion against the faith in which he was raised by his parents. He looked and acted the part—the cover of the book even pictures him in his leather motorcycle jacket.
But unlike actor James Dean in the 1995 classic, Rebel Without a Cause, Franklin Graham finally embraced the cause he had been rebelling against—the cause of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Today, Franklin Graham is known around the world as head of both Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian humanitarian relief organization, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, succeeding his father in that latter role.
Many people don’t think about another of God’s most fruitful servants as a “rebel with a cause”—but Moses was. He was a rebel who spent a good part of his life on the run—running from both man and God under a mixed set of circumstances. But one thing Moses was never without: a cause.
You recall Moses’ story: born to Hebrew parents who were slaves in Egypt, descendants of Jacob and his twelve sons. Fearing a rebellion, Pharaoh issued an edict to kill all male Hebrew infants to put a halt to the growing population of slaves. But Moses was rescued and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was given the best education that wealth could provide and rose in stature in Pharaoh’s court.
But Moses never forgot his Hebrew roots. When he saw an Egyptian soldier beating a Hebrew slave, his “cause” took over. He rebelled against his Egyptian status and struck the Egyptian soldier, killing him. Knowing then that his life was in danger, he ran all the way to the desert region of Midian. At the age of 40, Moses became a shepherd in the employ of Jethro. And it seemed he might live out his days there until God appeared to him when he was about 80 with a new mission: return to Egypt and free the Hebrew slaves.
Moses rebelled again: “Lord, please! Send anyone else” (Exodus 4:13, NLT). Moses doubted God’s ability to use him in a challenging situation. In his advanced years, he couldn’t see himself marching into Egypt and convincing Pharaoh to let the Hebrew children go.
Rebels in Search of a Cause
Every Christian has a streak of Moses in him or her for this reason: We follow the world’s greatest rebel, Jesus of Nazareth. Anyone who identifies with God’s work will need to rebel against the ways of the world to serve God. Not to rebel against God, but against being “squeezed into the world’s mold” (Romans 12:2, Phillips).
But what about passion at an older age? Moses had lost a bit of his “fire in the belly” by age 80. The Hebrew slaves were still being unjustly mistreated, so nothing had changed there. Moses just thought it was someone else’s job—a younger man’s job—to trek to Egypt and confront the most powerful ruler in the world.
But God needed a rebel then and He needs rebels today. And that’s where you and I come in. As a pastor, I can identify hundreds of senior saints in my church who are about two-thirds of the way through their life-span as Moses was. And fortunately, many of them are answering God’s call to go back into the world with the testimony of the grace of God in their lives and proclaim “freedom to the captives.” What an inspiration they are to me! I thank God for each and every one. But God wants more senior saints to join them.
The Secret of Being a Senior Rebel
Let me share a secret that I am learning the older I get. Senior citizens in general, and senior saints in particular, find it easier to speak their mind and do their own thing the older they get. Who is more bold—young or old? Who is wiser? Who is more seasoned? Who is more familiar with the schemes of the enemy? Senior saints are awesome when their natural aging kicks in and they become rebels for God. If that includes you, begin asking God to give you courage not to run from His assignments, but to be a rebel with a cause—the cause of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.