Laurialt: Sometimes God needs to discipline his children

Sometimes it takes a real knock to the head for us to pick up on a concept. That literally came to my mind recently.

You see, I've always been bothered by the sun shining through the windshield between the visors. No matter how the visor is tilted or angled, it still doesn't completely block out the sun and I have to reposition my body to avoid the glare, sometimes uncomfortably. While getting back into the car after fueling up recently, I bumped my head against what had been an almost perfectly positioned sun visor and felt it move away from me.

My first thought was, "Rats! I've just broken what little protection I had when driving into the sun!" But, upon further inspection, the visor didn't really look broken. Rather, I learned from that knock to the head that the visor was actually designed to slide over to cover the area near the rear view mirror. Quite often as Christians we need a knock to the head to realize God's love. In fact, the Hebrews writer says God disciplines those he loves as his children (Hebrews 12:5-11). While discipline can include various forms of guidance, including simple instruction (discipling) such as teaching a child how to dress themselves, that passage in Hebrews actually appears to limit itself to less pleasant forms of discipline.

God uses at least three steps in discipline. First is simple instruction through his word directly and from other Christians (Matthew 28:18-20). If we'll just do as he says, most things will go well for us, keeping in mind that other people do sinful things that negatively affect us (e.g., drunk drivers) (Deuteronomy 6:1-3).

When we fail to follow God's instructions, the next step he takes is having his indwelling Spirit encourage us to repent. This Spirit came to live within us when we became Christians and had probably been instructing us all along to avoid the sin to begin with because we're God's children (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 8:9-17; Hebrews 3:6-14; 1 John 1:8 to 2:6; Ephesians 5:1-10).

If we don't heed the Spirit, the encouragement to repent eventually leads to goading that can include various levels of some sort of unpleasantry. Jesus mentioned this form of discipline to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 26:12-20; a goad is the equivalent of a cattle prod that could be used as a weapon: 1 Samuel 13:19-21; Judges 3:31). It's useless to resist God (Job 9:4). In fact, if we don't repent, God's Spirit will depart and we'll lose the benefit of his protective love through discipline as his children (1 Samuel 15:23; 16:14; Hebrews 10:26-31). Nothing can separate us from God's love, except our choice to leave (Romans 8:38-39; John 10:27; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Romans 1:21-25; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1:8-10). God goes to great lengths to protect us from falling away, but there is a limit to what he can do because of our free will (Joshua 14:14-15; Luke 15:11-24; Hebrews 6:4-6). So, pay attention to those knocks to the head from God.

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at lmlaur@plateautel.net

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