The Bible often depicts two kinds of troublemakers. There are troublemakers such as Sheba son of Shikri who troubled David, and Achar who troubled all of Israel. These kind of bad troublemakers are spoken against in Proverbs and by Peter. But there are also good troublemakers. The good troublemakers in the Bible include men such as Elisha, Daniel, Samson, and Paul among others. These troublemakers often stand alone against the secular or pagan world; many times they paid for their stand with their life.
We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. Acts 24:5
17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals.” 1 Kings 18:17
Samson is a favorite among Bible readers. His troublemaking came at a crucial time. His story is told in the book of Judges. At that time there was a troubled peace between the Israelites and the Phillistines. Before and after that, the Phillistines and the Israelites were always at war with each other. But by the time Samson arrived on the scene, the Israelites were ruled by the Phillistines and the Phillistines were intermarrying with them. The Israelites, who had managed to retain their identity while battling their enemies. But now a subtle form of destruction was upon them. They were in danger of peacefully reconciling with their oppressive enemies.
The writer of the story of Samson records this in Judges 14, “One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”
His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?”
But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” His father and mother didn’t realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.”
The Lord was attempting to stir up trouble! And trouble comes when Samson gets engaged but the engagement falls apart. If this were any other situation, trouble might not have started. But God created Samson with a nasty temper. Samson set out to avenge himself and pretty much rains destruction on the Phillistines at every turn. It is interesting to see how tolerant the Phillistines were about Samson’s many exploits. They seem to always be pleading to Samson for peace. It is possible that this generation of Phillistines were as tired of battles as the Israelites were. It is only as Samson continually provoked them that they finally decided to do something. And even then, they did battle the rest of Israel, they battled only Samson. Because of Samson’s temper, however, the Phillistine rulers of that generation were destroyed.
John the Baptist was a troublemaker. And he dressed like it.
Elijah was another troublemaker. He was not perfect. Troublemakers rarely are. St James writes that Elijah was a man of like passions as we are. Perhaps that is one of the marks of a troublemaker. They become passionate about certain situations. Another Biblical Troublemaker was Paul. When he went to Athens and saw the city given over to idolatry, it bothered him. When he was bothered by a fortune-teller, it grieved and annoyed him. It would seem, then, that troublemakers are so passionate about certain causes that they cannot help but trouble a whole city with their obessions and pet peeves.
Throughout history, there have been many Christians with obsessions and peeves. Zeal and passion are not counter to a Christian life. The passion should not be murderous, as Samson’s was. Neither should the passion be a selfish one — for instance, a passion for one’s race, one’s country, one’s social class. But it should be a passionate committment to a just cause ruled by the Christian’s love of God. Throughout the world, Christian activists such as Mother Theresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Archbishop Romero and many others have been holy troublemakers. God used their passions –and created their personalities– to further His kingdom.