Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Discipline: You may not have it, but you know you need it. Hebrews 12

I grew up in a different generation than folks who are, say, 20 years old today (or younger). Discipline for me translated into 'spankings'. I put that in quotes because we actually called them beatings. Mom would say, "you are going to get a beating" or a "whippin". Now let's be clear about this: I know some folks are highly offended by this and consider any kind of corporal punishment to be abuse. I respect that. But I also respectfully submit that I was not abused. I joke about it, but the beatings were tempered and rare. And they were well deserved, I might add.

Most of all, they were memorable. That was the point. The discipline etched deeply into my psyche and it altered my future behavior. Isn't that the point of being disciplined? Ultimately, the best discipline changes poor, wrong or bad behavioral patterns such that they become productive, right and good.

The Writer of Hebrews spends a lot of time in chapter 12 talking about discipline. It makes me uncomfortable, if you want to know the truth. I steer away from modern talk of God's 'punishment' or 'judgment' because I think so many people have abused the idea. Who could forget the irresponsible way that some church leaders equated the 9/11 attacks to God's judgment on America for her immorality. That just isn't consistent with the God I know.

But one cannot ignore Hebrews 12. What should we do with these words about discipline? If you thought discipline from God was just an Old Testament principle, think again.

I confess that I'm still wrestling with this. There is a certain tension in the Bible over it. I think that The Writer makes a compelling argument here, and this is, after all, the Bible. I say I believe its teachings. I have to deal with this, too.

As I work to grasp it, I can see how God has disciplined me personally in a way that is like any loving parent. I'm sure it hurt Him more than it hurt me - really. But I'm still not able to reconcile a 'national' judgment with Heb 12.

Would love to know your thoughts, too.

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