"Don't play with fire." Somehow, someway, the moment we become parents, phrases like this one become an innate part of our vocabulary. The moments before the baby is born, we still roll our eyes at our parents when they say these protective imperatives. In an instant, as we lay eyes on our own sweet child, it's as if the years of parental protective imperatives flood our minds and thoughts. And we, just like our parents and grandparents before them, cannot help but utter the same words.
As a parent, it is our duty to protect and defend. It is our privilege to instruct and correct. Often our children think we are only "laying down the law" to irritate the life out of them, or to keep them from having any fun at all. But our loving hearts just want what is best for them. Disciple, rules and regulations seem so binding and controlling as a child.
In her book, The Wellness Revelation, Alisa Keaton defines grace.
"Grace is giving people what they need."(pg. 162)
Grace always looks like love, but sometimes grace looks like discipline. Discipline is grace.
God has known all along that relationship with He is our greatest need as human beings. Perhaps what we, the church, have so often failed to see is that all throughout scripture when God disciplines His people, it is an extension of His grace. He longs to correct the sinful behavior in order to restore relationship with Him - and meet our greatest need, more of Him. His disciple was and is His grace in action.
The 10 commandments, for example, are God's grace in action. He shows us, through protective guardrails, His great love and give us blessing upon blessing. He wants to be our God. And so, He extends to us grace upon grace - He gives us just what we need at just the right time.
If our loving father withholds correction from us, it is a sign of hatred toward us. But His incredible love and grace are on display and made plain before us in that He corrects our steps through discipline, just as I correct my daughters' steps. I love my daughters and I want God's best for them, therefore I am training them up under God's plan for them laid out in the Bible. My grace and love for them is displayed through discipline.
As I think about my faith journey, there have been times, even as an adult when I respond to God's discipline as a child. My want and desire to continue doing things my way blinded my vision for what God was trying to lovingly correct in my spirit.
Reflect with me, if you will, on the areas in your life where you feel like God is disciplining you. How have you responded to His correction? With humility and surrender? With pouting and anger? Or with a passive aggressive tendency or the silent treatment?
Oh, that we can understand the grace that is extended to us through discipline, to keep us in community, in relationship with a most Holy God. Oh, that we can understand the fullness of God's love for us. Amen.