Started: 11 December, 2012
I wrote this a while ago, but wanted to sit on it. Found it again tonight, made a few adjustments. Here are a couple of thoughts about God’s love & discipline in our lives.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:7-18
The bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-16, that God is love, perfect love. What is commonly called the fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control) are all different manifestations of love. (Galatians 5:22)
When he is angry – it is love being expressed. When he is joyful – it is love being expressed.
1. God is Love – Tranquility from Christ
“3 Kinds of Tranquility
1. Kind that can be bought in a bottle
2. Kind that comes from taking ourselves for granted & believing good things about ourselves that are not true.
3. Kind that comes from a disturbance of the soul that shakes it to its foundation and drives a manor woman with an open bible to cry “Search me Oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts.” Psalm 139:23. Then when God does that, we have tranquility grounded upon the Rock.” A.W Tozer
The Christian life isn’t first and formost about finding peace, comfort and freedom from persecution, or finding the solutions to our nasty habits or irritating Character flaws – well what is it you ask? Salvation, redemption, sanctification – for without these first we cannot find peace, we cannot find tranquility.
The tranquility, as Tozer puts it, that we get from finding salvation, redemption and sanctification through Christ is by far the most tranquil of tranquilisers we will ever find in life. Part of the Christian journey involves correction – not a blind eye or ignorant turning of the other cheek. We should desire to see our brothers and sisters in Christ grow and flourish in the knowledge and grace of God – and sometimes this involves correction and facing the cold hard facts.
2.God disciplines those he loves – Diagnosis and Correction
Hebrews 12:6, “The Lord corrects those He loves and disciplines those He calls His own.”
The argument here, is what ‘we’ have created over a time – a people who shudder at the thought of being corrected / disciplined / dealt the firm hand or as Christian writer A.Tozer put it, ‘diagnosed’. He shares in one of his books “A Christ-centred Church” an illustration of someone going to a Dr and asking the Dr what is wrong with them. Each time the Dr diagnoses the issue, the patient replies – “Well you can’t say that, you are supposed to be loving and you definitely aren’t supposed to be judgemental!” ahhhh so often this happens in life. “Why am I sad?” “Why do I feel so unfulfilled?” – yet when the answers are given, when truth is shared from the heart of a committed, bible-believing Christian we so quickly try to shut them down for “offending” or “being too tough and critical”.
“We go to church to hear a message that is encouraging, uplifting – even confirmation in our back slidden ways – yet when the minister confronts us with a diagnosis we shut our ears, and try to shut their mouths at the absurd remarks.” A.W Tozer
It’s easy to be teachable on our own terms, and choose what we will change – but to submit to God’s instruction when it hurts – that’s humbling.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you not recognise this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you. Unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realise that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong, not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we should appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you may be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent in order that when present I may not use severity in accordance with authority which the Lord gave me, for building up not tearing down. Finally brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:5-11
I happened to open my bible soon after reading this section from A Tozer, to 2 Corinthians 13:5-11 and the first phrase from Paul was “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith….Examine yourselves” ouch. Learn to accept ‘diagnosis’ from those in a position of authority from God to give it. The examine yourself plea isn’t written directly in regards to our actions / character – Paul is challenging the congregation / followers to examine whether Christ is their Saviour or whether they are ‘acting’ their Christian-walk and putting on a facade or a show. For if salvation was based on our righteousness we would all fail the examination and there’s no way possible we could pass.
Are we teachable on God’s terms? Do we believe that God is love, and the most satisfying experience of love is through His salvation, redemption & sanctification, and sometimes this is not pleasant for us, but ultimately satisfying.
I don’t believe that God’s grace was ever intended to be used as form of permissiveness, or tossed around as a form of permission to continue on in our sinful ways. Grace is not an easy way out, or a last ditch effort to restore something that is lost through our errors.
It erks me, that in a ministry setting, people who are under authority seem to think they have the right to be unteachable, and claim that the confrontation (when ministry work is being undermined) is simply a display of a lack of grace and God’s love. Or a parent reprimanding their child is unloving and cruel. Or a boss cautioning and sacking their employee is unfair dismissal. Are we seriously becoming a society that is not only afraid of consequences and correction because ‘its not nice’?
How do you feel about diagnosis in your faith & walk with God? Are you resistant to growth? Do you think that you will experience more growth in your walk with Him by someone stroking your ego and making you feel like a ‘nice’ person rather than an honest biblical truth that convicts your heart of sin in your life? To take away the darkness of sin and the chance to expose the ugly position we find ourselves in each day, is to remove the most powerful expression of Salvation, redemption and sanctification – God’s love.