Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

May 14, 2011

Intelligent Disobedience

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

There was a time that our daughter had a guide dog to aid her.  The dog was well trained to obey her commands.  William, as he was named, provided mobility and independence for her.  I was amazed at his ability to protect and guide her.  He certainly seemed to possess a special intelligence.

But William, like other guide dogs had been taught “Intelligent Disobedience.”  That meant that he was trained to go directly against her instructions at certain times.  He was to disobey her commands if such a command would place her in danger.

If the visually impaired person is desiring to cross the street, obviously the person cannot see the traffic signal and know when to cross.  The service animal, likewise, cannot read the traffic signal.  The owner listens intently to the moving traffic.  When no sound of a car is apparent, the owner gives a command “forward” to the dog.  The dog senses danger, however.  The animal may visually see an approaching car that seemingly has made no sound that the owner has heard.  The dog then refuses the command — no matter how many times the owner gives the command.  This is called intelligent disobedience.

Intelligent disobedience is not deliberately disobeying as it might appear.  The animal is using a judgment that is sound and safe.  It is for the protection of the individual.

Let’s see if this can apply to our lives at times!  First, let me assure you there is nothing intended in this to provide some excuse for disobedience.  I will be suggesting, however, there is a time when we need to know that we should depart from the norm in opinions, actions, and standards.  And we depart from such as a protection and correct  response.  There are times when we might need to go against the culture of the day.

Intelligent disobedience is saying no in certain situations where it is not expected.  I wish I could give you an example in my own experience, but I fear that all my memories were more deliberate acts.  Too often my disobedience toward my parents was deliberate.  Intelligent — it was not!  My bottom still has the memories!

But there are times in this generation when some of us are faced with decisions of intelligent disobedience.  Society often gives us a command “forward.”  Many times, as Christians, we are confronted with obedience or disobedience.  I want those times of disobedience to be intelligent disobedience.

We must guard against blind conformity — obedience without question.   We are confronted with obeying the rules of our culture without disobeying Christ.  Those can be tough moments.  We need to have a valid reason to go against what seemingly is accepted by the world. To obey Christ and disobey the expected in society could be termed intelligent disobedience.

We have good models for us.  In fact, we could begin with Jesus Christ, himself.  He healed the leper and others on the Sabbath day.  That was not only a religious rule but a taboo  Many times He disobeyed the culture of the day.  His mercy and compassion preceded the cultural rules. 

In the Old Testament there is the story of Daniel.  He refused to pray to the king.  He used intelligent disobedience and prayed to God.  Oh, it cost him.  He was thrown into the lions’ den.  But read the story — he was protected by God . . . and I believe because he chose obedience to God rather than man.  Regardless of the cost, however, we must still choose obedience to God.

In the book of Acts, there are recordings about Peter and intelligent disobedience.  In Acts 4, he was told that he must no longer preach the gospel.  His response to the authorities was “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Shortly after that, the authorities warned him again.  His defense?  “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

Such must be the spirit and attitude of the followers of Christ.  Whether in a social setting challenged to be involved in immorality or the temptation that comes personally within our own mind about some activity that we know is contrary to God’s desire for us, we must exercise intelligent disobedience.  Yet, many times we are too timid . . . or we lack the courage to be out of step with our contemporaries.

Some advice?  Obey what blesses you . . . disobey what will harm you!

“And anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  (James 4:17)



1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for this great piece of content. Best Regards

    Comment by Paul Rally — May 18, 2011 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

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