Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why Discipline? by Dudley Hall

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." 
Hebrews 12:5b-6 (ESV)

The idea of being disciplined by God has been banished by our culture. We don't seem to mind being coached to achieve athletic or business success, but spiritual discipline sounds too harsh. After all, the god we have created in our minds is one who pampers us and finally takes everyone to heaven where we never have to work again.

In the book of Hebrews we are told that God created mankind to be crowned with glory and honor as the governor of God's creation (Hebrews 2:6-9). When sin came into the dynamic we became slaves to the creation we were designed to rule. But God sent another Man to pioneer the way back to the original destiny. He has identified with his younger brothers and rescued us to restore us to the roles of kings and priests. Since that is our designated role, we must be equipped with the needed tools to rule and represent.

To the degree that we are not naturally equipped to fulfill our destiny as "God reflectors" on this earth, we need divine discipline. God has not given up on his plan to have sons on earth who work with him in displaying the order of heaven on earth. Jesus came to make it possible for there to be a people fully equipped to represent God accurately and to intercede for creation in the presence of God. He was the first man to fulfill his destiny. In him, a new age arrived. Now those who are in him are being trained to live as he does in the life of the future.

While on earth, Jesus never faced a situation that conquered him or even baffled him. He demonstrated that mankind, in partnership with the Father, is capable of ruling. However, he didn't rule the way others did. He ruled through love. He vanquished his enemies with love and forgiveness rather than the sword. One of his most ardent enemies was Saul of Tarsus. Saul hated Jesus and his followers. He was passionate about putting them in prison or in the grave. Jesus met him and loved him into submission. Saul/Paul became the leader of the early church's mission.

Today the news is full of reports of unrest and revolution as people in many countries are protesting the rule of autocratic regimes. Wars are being fought on many fronts, and it is tempting to conclude that things will never get any better on planet earth. But that is not the case. Jesus came to restore a people equipped with three weapons that will finally bring the world to its destiny. These weapons of faith, hope, and love cannot be stopped. Guns and spears or even lasers can't stop their power. We who are believers in Christ are being equipped to use these weapons. Where we aren't familiar with them, God is arranging circumstances for us to learn. He is intent on getting us fitted to fulfill our calling. It is not always comfortable to have unbelief, hatred, and doubt exposed and eradicated, but it is absolutely necessary.

We are not victims in a world gone out of control. We are sons under the loving hand of God the Father who is removing our previous programming and restoring us to the roles he designed. He will activate our faith, hope and love by placing us in positions that require them. We can embrace our discipline as an honor or we can fight it and delay and even deny the process.

The new creation has begun, but it has not been consummated. We live in the between time. We can learn to rule while we eagerly await the consummation of all new created things. Get your chin up. Walk straight. Look forward. This is our time to shine. (Take the time to read the rest of Hebrews 12.)

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