Church, Discipleship, and “No pain, no gain”
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:10-11 (NLT)
65 Once again you had gone back to your old follies!… And afterwards, when you returned, you didn’t feel very cheerful, because you lacked humility. It seems as if you obstinately refuse to learn from the second part of the parable of the prodigal son, and you still feel attached to the wretched happiness of the pig-swill. With your pride wounded by your weakness, you have not made up your mind to ask for pardon, and you have not realised that, if you humble yourself, the joyful welcome of your Father God awaits you, with a feast to mark your return and your new beginning. (1)
This morning I went to work out. I still am sore from my last work out, still moving slowly.
Instinctively, I wanted to skip this workout, to wait until I feel better, till the pain subsides, til I am no longer stiff, and can move freely. Which is, of course, exactly the wrong thing to do.
The pain is a sign of progress, the soreness is not a bad thing. That’s why coaches talk about “no pain, no gain.”
So why do we think our walk with God is any different?
A few days ago – a friend put a post up on FB talking about how one should never, ever use the Bible to cause pain. The picture was of three men bashing a fourth man nearly to death, with Bibles in their hands. What is interesting is that the meme and the words that accompanied it were as confrontational and divisive as what was being done. It sought to use the bible to bash those who would confront sin. Similarly, there has been of posts and emails about the recent World Vision decision, and counter decision. One of my favorite writers wrote saying it is not right to condemn the sins that we hyper-focus on, then he goes and condemns those who…. yeah…. are guilty (in his opinion) of the very sin he has spent most of his ministry confronting.
Which brings me to the question of this blog.
Does the church, and those who are its shepherds, have a duty to disciple people? What if that discipline will hurt? Do we have the responsibility to still bring the issues to the surface, to confront the sin, so that healing can take place? That the people can be free of its oppression? What if the sin is simply not forgiving the sins committed against them?
There is a need to do all things in love, but that love can require us to do things that can be painful, that can cause heartache, for such is often required, Even so, causing that pain is a daunting and scary proposition. No matter what the sin is, no matter who the person is, For it is not loving, to refuse to disciple someone, because it might hurt.
It is just like working out, where parts of our body need to be broken down, in order to create healthy muscle. That which separates us from God, has to have grace applied to it. The behaviors and thoughts that are not of Christ, have to be nailed to the cross with Christ. And those who love us, our family of God, have to know that we are willing to willing to be challenged, willing to hurt, to be sore. Willing to let God bring healing into our lives, and confront the darkness that clings to us, which we sometimes want to cling to as well.
Are you willing to suffer, that you may know God’s grace all the more clearly? Are you willing to suffer, that someone else will?
That’s not the question to ask..really, for it puts the emphasis on us, when the work of cleansing us from sin is already accomplished, in Christ.
The question is, do we desire the peace God has prepared for us to dwell in, as we dwell in Christ?
Lord – have mercy on us sinners…….
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 490-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.