Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The part that most people dislike is usually the best part for us

I remember as a child the great sense of security the presence of my parents gave to me. As long as I was with them no harm could ever find me and if for some reason it did my mom was there to make it feel better. It was wonderful to have the simplistic thinking of a child. Perhaps that is why so many of us find such comfort in Psalm 139:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"

 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalm 139:8-12)

We have an awesome God who will never leave us or forsake us. But there was a flip side to my parents' presence. Them being with me all the time meant they saw when I was disobedient and were able to correct me quickly. As a child it was frustrating because I could not get away with anything. As an adult I am thankful my parents were there to teach me the difference between right and wrong. There are those who resent this part of God's responsibility to us:

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
   "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
      and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
      and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Without a parent's correction a child will grow up all twisted and wrong. They will be selfish, self-centered, spoiled to the core. They will have nothing to contribute to society but will instead take away from it. They will be useless to everyone. Understand then the discipline of our always-present Father:

When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32)

There is another portion of Scripture that explains it is better to have our faith tested here to see if it is lacking then to discover that what we thought was faith was not faith as we are stand for judgment. If we find out here then we have time to correct it. If we are disciplined here we have time to change, to correct our situation, behaviour, attitude.

Now after all this we are finally ready to consider this morning's Scripture reading:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

The fact is that God knows everything to know because he is everywhere to see it. Not a hair from the head falls without God knowing it. The question about the tree in the woods falling and making noise is simple to answer because God is there to hear it. We draw great strength and encouragement from this knowledge but it can also cause great fear, depending on our conscience. The Word of God is the greatest tool we have ever been given. It is the source of our knowledge of God. It is a great comfort as it reminds us of the many promises we have received. It is the ultimate source of encouragement. It is also a mighty weapon to protect us from ourselves and our propensity for self-destruction. It reveals the truth in such a way that if we are willing to look at it we see the truth from fiction, the reality from the pretending, the right from the wrong. It is not a jumbled mess as some philosophies would teach us, instead it is clearly defined, black and white.

Those of us who are mature gladly welcome the correction God brings us through his Word, telling of the truth that saves us from ourselves. We welcome it because it will see us through to the end. It is like the marks on the highway that guide us along, safely keeping us on the right path. We can easily ignore those lines and drive as we want to but that would be foolish and will likely lead to someone dying. We can ignore the correction of our all-knowing God but what would the point be? Disobedience leads to death. It is much more useful and healthy to submit to the discipline, correction of out Father. Later, when we are in a place of greater maturity we will be glad for it. For this and many other reasons, the Word of God must be a daily consumption. Be wise my friends, seek the council and guidance of our all-knowing God while it is still called today. Tomorrow will be too late.

No comments: