Thursday, February 24, 2011

break it to make it better


"My son, don't take lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him;
For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives."

The God I grew up with did not like me very much. Every time I screwed up he was there with a spoonful of guilt and a tall glass of shame to wash it down with. My faith was centered on behavioral modification. What I could do or not do to avoid divine disappointment? The problem with experiencing God that way is making punishment and discipline equal. And honestly the reason we make this synopsis in our brain is that it’s the reality we lived through most of our lives.

When you’re late for work and it affects your pay, that's discipline. If someone cuts you off and you tailgate them 20 miles out of your way just to make a point, that's punishment. The difference between the two is that punishment has no redemptive quality and is abusive by nature. God is not abusive in nature.

Recently my mom injured herself while working with her horses. She did some pretty nasty damage to her shoulder. My Mother is anything but a wimp when it comes to physical pain. Living with Lupus and Fibromyalgia for twenty some odd years has made her pretty tough. Unfortunately this time her stubbornness caused more pain than it was worth. The injured area that went untreated covered itself in scar tissue and made her arm nearly immobilized. A somewhat immediate surgery was called for which involved cutting through the scar tissue with a laser. The goal is to alleviate the pressure and help her regain some mobility. The interesting part is that the bodies resilience and propensity toward fixing itself is actually works against the healing process in cases like this.So every day, for a season, she has to rotate her body in such a way that it rips, tears, and breaks any connections the muscles are trying to make with the damaging newly severed scar tissue. She has to break it to make it better.

That word scourge in Hebrews 12 also had cultural significance to cleansing and healing. Which is why the passage that says, "by his stripes we are healed" is not so out of place. There was this cultural connection between discipline and healing. Does sin have consequence? Yes. Is that consequence anger and disappointment from God? I don't believe it is. 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Fear has to do with punishment. Love has to do with discipline.

Sometimes the ripping, tearing, and breaking we feel are what's best for us. It's a way of keeping the scar tissue from immobilizing us. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt violently at the time. But it is redemptive in nature. Brokenness, believe it or not truly is an act of love. So if your feeling the "scourging" let me encourage you and say, “welcome to the family.”

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