Jesus is the most excellent Savior. He takes us just as we are at the moment of salvation. We do not need to clean ourselves up in order to be adopted as one of God’s children. His love and salvation are based upon His goodness and not ours. Because God is such a good Father, He never leaves us as we are though. From the moment we join the family and heaven rejoices, His love causes Him to have great hopes for us. His plan is to mold us into the image of His Son, Jesus. When we are particularly disobedient, stubborn or outright sinful, this transformation process can be painful. It can hurt our flesh to lose the things in life that we like to hold onto but are really bad for us. A perfect Father knows that this short-term focus is not what is best for us in the long haul. What may hurt in the short term can be exactly what we need in the long…even if we don’t understand it. A loving Father makes the hard choices for his child. He disciplines them because it is good for their growth and maturity, not because He wants to injure them.
If a toddler runs into a busy street we would expect a reaction from his parents. After the initial shock and fear, we would look for that parent to do something to prevent it happening again. Whether it be giving that little one a stern talking to or a swat on the behind, the parents would be negligent in their duties if they didn’t. It is their responsibility do something to teach and protect their baby. A roadway is a dangerous place for a child. Sure, the child usually doesn’t like the parent’s reaction. It involves pain of some kind, physical or emotional, but keeping that little one out of the path of a car is more important than the child’s tears. The little one’s safety and growth are more important than momentary unhappiness.
If the ones in authority did not do something they would not be expressing love. It is Parenting 101 that parents are willing to discipline their kids to protect them from danger and ensure their future.
If the toddler repeats and escalates their error, the level of response is heightened as well. If a child is running towards the street with a truck bearing down, a loving parent would be willing to cause greater temporary pain to prevent the tragedy they see coming, right? If the only way to save their greatly cherished son or daughter from the truck is to tackle the sweet little toddler, what would any reasonable parent do?
It would be a gently as possible under the circumstance but where the parent sees certain harm bearing down on their short-sighted little babe, it would be a good thing for that child to get knocked down even if it hurts. It would be what any loving parent would do. The parents have no desire to knock the child down. It would be better if no pain were necessary, but the child’s actions have left no choice. A serious response is required to prevent a great tragedy. A bit of temporary pain now is better than a hugely painful permanent injury. Again, it seems like Parently 101.
Given that we probably take this idea for granted with earthly parents, why are we surprised when similar situations occur with our Heavenly Father?
When we have gone astray and put ourselves in danger doesn’t it makes sense that God would discipline us? When these consequences cause us to kick and scream, why are we surprised?.
When God sees us running headlong on a collision course with great possibly permanent harm and is forced to knock us down, literally or figuratively, what should He do? He calls Himself is our Father. He loves us and wants us to grow in maturity, love, and holiness. He has no desire to allow temporary pain but our decisions have dictated the choice. It is choosing between short term pain that leads to repentance and growth or permanent serious harm.
It is Parenting 101 that parents discipline their kids and are willing to cause short-term unhappiness to ensure their safety and long-term prosperity, right?
According to the Book of Hebrews, God’s chastening us so that we grow in His holiness is even proof that we are His children. If God is not disciplining us, then we are not His legitimate child. It is like if we are a parent and we are in a location where there are lots of kids who are not ours. When misbehavior occurs or we hear a tantrum, we are not the ones to run over and deal with it. Not our child, not our issue to deal with.
Just like with earthly parents, love requires a parent to discipline their kids. Not to hut them but so they don’t keep making the same mistakes and learn to avoid danger on their own. Growth as Christians requires that God shows us when we have done wrong so we can feel the pain of the mistake and learn to avoid it. God’s love and mercy even involve sometimes taking us down when we are headed for an even bigger more painful fall. It may hurt, but it is a mercy compared to what we are prevented from doing.
If we are struggling today and feeling every bit God’s discipline in our lives, take a moment and consider where it points us towards. God’s chastening is never pointless or punitive. It is always with the goal of turning us away from something that is bad for us. It is for protecting us and growing us in holiness. It is to make our lives in Jesus better not to cause pain. It may not seem fun at the moment but is for our good.
Jesus says to take up your cross and follow Him. The cross was extremely painful for Jesus in the short term. It led to great long-term gain. Do we trust that God is a good father, even when it hurts?