How many of us have rebelled against the status quo, the demands of culture, or even God? We all have suffered with rebellion in our lives, haven’t we? But what about the person who enjoys rebelling, and loves to pit themselves against the correct and unblemished ideals that society deems fitting? One such person, Aurelius Augustine, born in 354 AD would fit in today’s culture as a well-fitting glove on the hand of a royal. And although his mind was clear as glass, in his self-worship, he lost the ability to perceive the difference between right and wrong, as it applied only to himself. Accordingly, his glorified opinion of himself stood in the way of common sense.
As a boy, Augustine was incorrigible — deceitful, playing instead of studying — not to mention that he became a thief at an early age. He loved his mother in an almost unhealthy way and despised his father. Then at 12 years old, his father sent him away to a new school in Madaura, a city known for its pride in antiquity and pagan lifestyles. Captivated by letters for the first time in his life, he read poetry and joined a pagan sect.
His experiments in sensuality began, and he later wrote in his Confessions, “Lord how loathsome I was in Thy sight. [Lust] stormed confusedly within me, whirling my thoughtless youth over the precipices of desire, and so I wandered still further the Thee, and Thou didst leave me to myself: the torrent of my fornications tossed and swelled and boiled and ran over.”
Now we might not voice our indiscretions so eloquently to God, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. The point is this, frustrated by humanity, “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Romans 1:24-25). In other words, just as in the case of Augustine, in certain circumstances and according to his will, God chooses to let our sin run amok as an act of judgement.
Yet, in spite of his love for rebellion, Augustine wanted to make all the right choices, in terms of social, religious, and intellectual pursuits, and chose not to learn the native language. He became a student of rhetoric and excelled in mastering the arts of writing and speaking effectively, and with stylishness. Augustine was interested in the same things as us — status, style, and success.
Have you ever felt that God was letting you have your way as an act of judgment?
To be continued…