by JoAnna Fannin
In this recent season of exposure, as Holy Spirit has shown His light on hidden deception and rebellion in the Body of Christ, we have begun a journey that many of us have never been on – at least not to this extent. Most of us have become aware of areas of rebellion in our own lives. In fact with attention drawn to it, it’s not hard to see how rampant rebellion and selfish ambition really is in our culture and our personal lives. I have certainly become aware through many avenues – discipleship challenge, dreams, community teachings, and conviction of Holy Spirit – that there are areas in my life where I have allowed these strongholds to rule me.
As I began down the road of recognizing, confessing, and repenting I quickly became aware of other strongholds that tried to dictate my response to this new revelation. There are a lot of specific descriptions I could give, but in the end I think they all lead back to one root which is fear. Here are a few ways that fear came into play for me: Fear of man, pride, fear of failing, and fear of rejection. We all have a longing to belong, so there was a part of me that began to think I needed to figure this out, and fix it as fast I can so that I don’t get rejected or look bad. There was the pride in me that wanted to make sure everyone knows that I have the greatest intentions…I never set out to rebel, I am not a rebellious person, I just followed culture and was living in ignorance. Not only does this line of thinking lead down a path to anxiety, stress, and more rebellion, but I got hit in the face with this question, “Who is the point, what is the point here?” In the entire response that I just wrote out the point was me. I was fixing, and deciding, and controlling, and doing…every part of it was self- focused for the sake of outer appearances.
When I said I got hit in the face, I meant it. It stung. So with that smarting face, I started asking the question, “What is the real point, who is the point in all of this?” This time I went to the Word of God for some truth. What I seemed to find everywhere I looked was this key of obedience to the Father. Jesus Himself, the greatest example we could ever imitate, did everything in His life and ministry based on obedience to His Father. He was divinity, and He could have claimed that divinity at any point, yet He chose to completely empty Himself of it. He became just like us, lived a sin and rebellion free life and was exalted because the Father Himself exalted Him. He NEVER exalted Himself though He would have had the ability to do so at any time. As I looked not only at His life, but His teachings I noticed that He always paid attention to the heart of the people, and refused to be swayed or fooled by the outer appearances that we tend to place so much stock in. So, instead of coming up with a new game plan for how to beat rebellion I had to start asking the Father what He was saying. Any conviction of sin or rebellion in me is to take me on a journey of repentance that leads straight back to the Father’s heart. The point isn’t the people to whom I’ve committed to confess. The point isn’t the husband and other leaders I need to submit to. I can confess things all day long, and I can come up with great ways to make my submitting to authority look amazing and on point. However, if it isn’t coming from a heart fully surrendered in obedience to the Father then I am nothing more than the whitewashed tomb Jesus spoke of with the Pharisees. So, based on this revelation how do I live out this whole journey from conviction through to repentance? I have to allow Holy Spirit to pierce my heart with the impact of my disobedience to the Father. Mary Magdalene was one of the very few people who made it to the foot of the cross with Jesus. He had explained her devotion earlier as, “He/she who has been forgiven much, loves much.” The truth is we have all been forgiven MUCH, but can we allow it to pierce our hearts so deeply that we become emptied out lovers at His feet living on every word He says. It is only the work of the Spirit that can lead us to that place, but we have to give Him access to our entire heart, and being.
I believe that the entire point of everything we do in this life points back to obedience to the Father which leads to deep intimacy with Him, and a life full of His fruit. That being said, I also see in the entire Biblical narrative, and Jesus’ own life on earth, everything is done within the context of community. There are always authority structures in place, and repentance always happens with other brothers and sisters in the faith involved. The fruit of living in fear of the Lord, and obedience to the Father will always look like confession of sin (to other people as well as the Father), and submission to authorities He has put in our lives. True confession will be with vulnerability which means we are humble and teachable in it, rather than just transparent without transformation. Submission to earthly authorities will come from a deep trust and obedience to the Father, rather than our own will. “Shema” is a Hebrew word that has been circulating in our community for the past year; it means listen and obey. It’s the journey we are on with the Father. We can notice, and hear what He wants to say to us in any given moment – then based on who He is, who He says we are, with the input of our leaders/community- we can walk out the truth He has shown us. It’s what friendship with God looks like, and the fruit will bring freedom and transformation to a world that desperately needs Him.
Note from the editor: The attached episode is a conversation all about the roots of rebellion in our lives. It is a core teaching this season in the Bridgeway and Coach & Joe communities. If you’re intimidated by this remember that everything Jesus offers us is from a good Father. If it looks scary it still leads to freedom and a deeper understanding of His love. Dive in!