Thursday, August 19, 2010

I am Thankful for God’s Discipline

I am writing a piece for the Church of God Evangel on God’s discipline and discipleship. At least I am supposed to be writing such a piece. The deadline is tomorrow. I have at least reviewed the Biblical text I was asked to consider as a bases for the article. I have also reflected on discipline.

It just doesn’t fit with our modern sensibilities to think of God taking a belt to our softer selves. But that is exactly what Hebrews says he does to those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Our Heavenly Father disciplines us just the way our earthly fathers do (or in my case mother), only His motives are entirely pure.

It would be nice if God’s discipline was always direct, just between Him and me, but He often chooses others as His instrument of correction. Troubles, trials, and/or tribulation may in fact be God’s instrument of correction. It would also be comforting if His correction was only when I slack off but He has a knack for paddling me while I’m up to my neck resisting sin and trying to do good (12:4-5). He sometimes reminds me of Mr. Waits, my high school band director.

Mr. Congeniality had been in the University of Alabama marching band: 1st chair, 1st part, trumpet player, and student director. When we practiced marching he carried a paddle, the same kind shop teachers made. You know the kind, four inches wide, one inch thick, two and a half feet long. If anyone got out of step or out of line he would run up behind them and give them a good smack in the rear. More often than not they were surprised by the sudden pain, being completely unaware they had done anything wrong.

The truth is that God doesn’t just correct us for consciously doing something wrong, that is, when we sin. He disciplines us toward perfection in righteousness so that we might share in his holiness (v. 10). He is not an absentee father who out of guilt pampers his children with gifts. He is actively engaged in every event of our lives, working for our full redemption, conformity to the image and stature of His only begotten Son.

The question is, can we recognize God’s presence in the negative events of our lives? Can we hear His voice in the clattering noises of life? Can we recognize His discipline? If we can, and submit to it, He has promised to bring us into the perfection of His Son.

I don’t enjoy His discipline, but I am thankful for it.

Cleveland, Tennessee
August 19, 2010

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