I have always loved, LOVED, pirate lore! However, I don’t like the pirates we are typically told about in history class. I like the ones who stood for something, not the pirates who just plundered and killed and raped.
- Stede Bonnet – He became a pirate because he believed in being loyal to his captain (Edward Teach). Eventually, Bonnet would become a captain, still sailing under Teach. He was known as “The Gentleman Pirate” because, even in piracy, he refused to mistreat others without a cause.
- Runaway slaves – Many pirates were slaves who ran away for their own freedom, with no other foreseeable way out.
- Captain Morgan – He was part of the Queen’s navy, but after the war with Spain officially ended, the Queen of England asked him to commit certain acts of piracy against Spanish ports in the Caribbean. Morgan kept fighting the war (a war he strongly believed in) because the Queen asked him to, and he eventually founded the city of Tortuga with his own pirate empire!
These individuals, as well as others, are why I have always loved pirate lore and history. They were not rebels, fighting for themselves, but instead, they simply went rogue!
I’ve always loved movies that encompass a tale of rags to riches. The Counte of Monte Cristo and Slumdog Millionaire are two of my favorite. There’s just something so awesome about someone going rogue within or outside of the rules that is exhilarating to watch. Somehow, I feel like we all identify with the rogue ones, the misfits, or the round pegs in square holes. The humans with 4×4 brains that make ways.
When Josh told me he was gonna kick off this blog with his genuine love for pirates I was like, “Um, okay.” But then it dawned me. Pirates are alway portrayed as the scurvy-carrying, rum-drinking, place-pillaging, scum of the earth, but somehow the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise milked over a BILLION dollars in the box office ALONE! So, I know Josh and I are not alone in our love for the rogue type of people.
My favorite definition of “rogue” is in the Oxford English Dictionary:
-a seedling or plant deviating from the standard variety.
I love the definition, “deviating from the standard.” I know that we as young people, Americans, Christians, etc have created this standard for ourselves.
- A standard of adulting: high school, college, career.
- A standard of marriage: meet them, date them, propose to them, marry them… in a barn.
- A standard of ministry: Bible college, internship, full-time position at a church.
- And a standard for life: work your career, rear a family with your better half, sprinkle vacations, ministry, and hobbies in between.
This whole blog isn’t promoting rebellion but it is promoting action. Josh and I want to point people to swim upstream. God works in ways that He’s used in the past and I’m positive He’s looking to work in ways He never has before. But that begins with getting out of the boat of normalcy.
Being a rebel is rising against the powers that be; one who has “gone rogue” has simply deviated from the standard. I believe that humans are drawn towards sin, thus God often calls His people to go rogue. However, God, speaking through the prophet Samuel, says,
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
-1 Samuel 15:23 ESV
In the book of James, chapter 4, Jesus’ brother clearly explains that giving in to the ways of the cultures around us is “cheating on” God. Those who participate are fools and do not truly love God.
Yet we see churches today that have succumbed to culture and look like clubs, as well as churches that have succumbed to being nothing more than simply a religious culture, rather than becoming places to find the saving grace of Christ. To “go rogue,” then, is to deviate from both religion and the culture of the world, by standing up for simply what is right.
When the whole world is trying to make you move like this, Captain America put best what we ought to do:
Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – NO, you move!
Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs that describes the rogue ones.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs used this in one of the most inspiring Apple commercials in 1997 called “Think different”. Whether you’re an apple fan or not, it’s worth watching. It features a somber piano tune and a montage of people along the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Albert Einstein, Jerry Seinfeld, Muhammed Ali, etc. Whether you agree with these folks’ influence, religious views or achievements is up to you.
You most likely DO know who they are and in some way or another, they have undoubtedly influenced our present technology, entertainment, justice, etc. It began with seeing things differently and being devoted to being crazy enough to change their environment. Did MLKJr foresee an African-born, American raised 24-year-old and a North Carolina native 24-year-old teaming up on a blog in 2016? No. But he saw a world that didn’t have the tension it had when he was around, he had a dream and off-roaded normalcy, and we all reap the benefits.
Think of powerhouse influences of past and present.
If they could do what they did outside of the context of relying on God and following Him, how much more can we do because we do have the upper hand of our Creator?
In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul’s prayer was penned and we get a glimpse of the God we should rely on. He wraps his prayer up with,
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It’s reassuring knowing that I too know and pray to a God who is able to do FAR MORE than I can think or ask. I deviate from standards a lot simply because I can’t connect with people who don’t grasp this. I remember preaching a message last year to my youth group after this verse had really resonated with me and I remember boldly shouting, “Some of you want God to help your parents stop drinking or cussing. I believe God wants to save your parents and put them in ministry leadership position!”
I got a lot of looks of shock and I realized, “They don’t really get it.” God doesn’t work in the fun fences we’ve set up for Him. I believed that sentence with all my heart and I winded down that message by just repeating Ephesians 3:20-21 over and over by faith until I saw a few nods of approval and I felt they were gonna deviate from the standard variety of faith-having.
As Shama just showed, history is filled with examples of the rogue ones, who paved the way for change. The Bible is also filled with examples of rogue ones who created and allowed for real change. Not only is the Bible filled with examples of those who did it right, but it is also filled with examples of those who did it wrong.
We see in the Bible people who have rebelled and got it wrong:
- The Israelites who tried to rebel against Moses, in Numbers 16; God opened up the earth to “swallow them” for this.
- Peter rebelled when the Romans came to take Jesus to His execution sentencing, in John 18. Peter cut a soldier’s ear off, was rebuked by Christ, then watched Jesus heal the man’s ear and go with them willingly.
- The Jewish people…. Basically every chapter in the book of Judges, and then a few other times also.
We also see people in the Bible who succumbed to the culture and got it wrong:
- Samson, in Judges 13 – 16, participated in the customs of the time, tried to marry a Philistine woman (she was given away to another man), and did many things against his personal covenant with God – because of the culture he surrounded himself with.
- Solomon, in 1 Kings 11, who married many women and succumbed to their cultures. He loved other gods and lost the favor of the one true God – ultimately, this caused the nation of Israel to split into two separate kingdoms upon his death.
- The Pharisees succumbed to a culture of religion and were condemned for their extra rules by Jesus, Himself, on several occasions throughout the Gospels.
Finally, we also see great examples of men who did right by going rogue, in the Bible:
- Moses stood up to Pharaoh (by God’s command) and told him to let the Jewish slaves go, in Exodus 9.
- Jesus called the religious leaders of His time “brood of vipers”, in Matthew 12, which was an extremely vulgar term at that time. Jesus used such strong language to condemn them for succumbing to the religious culture that was set up.
- In Acts 9, Saul saw Jesus and got saved. His name was changed to Paul and he preached against the religious culture that he was once apart of, as well as against the Roman culture to which he belonged by birth.
NOTE: Jesus was crucified and died as a rogue agent in the world, Paul was stoned three times for his ministry, and many of the Old Testament prophets died by execution for going rogue, as well. As for going rogue, what is right will not be easy!
Josh pointed out a few examples of Biblical rogue pioneers who have influenced our faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith and it lists more Biblical heroes and their accolades. It’s beautiful. Having read it multiple times and even preached from it, the key things that stand out to me is that we can brag about them now and forget about their hardships then.
“Abraham believed God and it was counted to Him as righteousness,” but my man was promised to be the father of many nations when he was 99 and childless. You like apples? How ’bout them apples? We still wonder why, when God told him of this, he literally FELL DOWN LAUGHING:
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ – Genesis 17:17
Moses was the greatest leader known in the Bible but he committed murder, fled the country, and became a shepherd for 40 years.
Come on now.
Let’s talk battle tactics: Walls were circled and FELL
People were stoned, sawn in half, or killed by a sword.
Their wardrobes were sheep and goat skins.
They were deprived till death.
Paul, the former Roman-Pharisee gone rogue, writes to a church that he played a part in starting at the city of Ephesus:
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. – Ephesians 5:6 ESV
Ephesus was filled with a culture of skeptics, religious radicals, and roman hedonism; thus, when Paul warns about “empty words” here, he is likely talking about the same type of talk we hear in our culture today: talk of partying, churches who take the Bible out of context, questioning of the Bible’s authority, attempts to force others to comply with one’s religious laws, etc. Paul goes on in the following verses to warn against even keeping the company of those who speak these words.
[This also means that we must not support anyone who spews lies or hatred to the masses – this might mean “going rogue” against your political party this voting season.]
Take no part in the unfruitful works of the darkness, but instead expose them. – Ephesians 5:11 ESV
The Bible does not allow us to be quiet in our culture of darkness. Sometimes our own churches may need to be exposed to fulfill this commandment!
However, Paul finishes this by exhorting obedience and submission to Christ. He even extends that to say that we should be….
…. submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21 ESV
Paul goes on in the next chapter to state that we are at war, “not with flesh and blood” but with rulers and prinicpalities and spirits over the present darkness. He tells the reader to prepare themselves to go rogue against this darkness by eguiping themselves with the whole armour of God – this means finding slavation, seeking out peace, seeking righteousness, praying, learning the words of the Bible, and more.
Thats why, as the late Michael Jackson said, it all begins with the man in the mirror.
To win this fight, Paul says that we must, MUST, prepare by deviating from the standard around us!
Josh asked me to wrap this up and I obliged.
We’ve given examples, quotes, and verses in an effort to convince you to get out of the box. Now comes the call to action. Do it. At the workplace, school, home, circle of friends, restaurant, grocery store. I took time off of writing this last paragraph to just pray for you who read this. I pray that God reveals the worth of knowing Him and everything else pales in comparison to it.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do as a Christian, youth pastor, actor, creator, friend, coworker, employee, etc., was to represent the God that I love with all my heart. I want unchurched people to see a non-corny Christian. I want my boss to see an honest God-loving employee. I want my friends to see a loving, true, rain or shine brother. I wanted the students in my youth group to see a Bible reading/obeying/teaching leader. I want my fellow actors, youtubers, comedians and creators to see an original creative guy who detours praise to the most talented being to whom he owes everything. God.
I believe with all my heart that there are unchurched, unsaved, sin-loving people in the world that are looking for a reason to make a life change – in fact, I have witnessed this desire with people in my own community. They’re wanting a reason to follow. They desire a reason to u-turn. I believe the greatest way is for them to WATCH US live differently, follow, u-turn and walk the narrow path constantly.
Living differently is exactly what Paul meant by having the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). What we do, what we produce, MUST be different from the world and different from simple religion, in order for real change to occur. This is what it means to be “a seedling or plant deviating from the standard variety.”
To go rogue!
St. Francis of Assisi once famously said,
Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.
People I come in contact with might never read this blog or know my stance on loving God. They are gonna watch me, though. What if my rogue, counter-culture, Bible reading/believing/following passion was evident and my God/people loving life convinced them? What if your life did too? How would it look?
I can tell you. It’ll be weird. It’s not gonna look normal. It’ll be contrary to what people have seen. Unlike anything they’ve heard. Opposite to normal. Upside down.
There will be a moment, mid-small talk, mid-meeting, mid-meal, you WON’T be discouraged, you WON’T think it’s strange, you WON’T hit the eject button, and you’ll have this weird urge to ride your stance out.
That urge, my friend, that urge is rogue.
Deviating from the standard variety.
My name is Shama and my name is Josh.
And we are your friends.