Thursday, July 19, 2007

Exhortation-Loving Discipline

Today, we receive new members into our congregation. The Tuckwiller family, who are members of Christ, are becoming members of this part of the body of Christ. Furthermore, we receive Eden McMaster, through birth and baptism, rebirth, into the body that is Providence Church. We are thankful that our body continues to grow. Growth of the body is a good thing. It makes the body strong, more capable of accomplishment, able to resist disease and sin.

But growth also makes one more capable of sinning, particularly against the family for which one joins. Eden could not have sinned against God or the McMasters a few months ago. But now she is here. She is a gift from God, a tremendous blessing, able to bring joy and delight, laughter and celebration. But she is also fully capable of bringing sadness and sorrow, tears and lamentation.

What will hold her to the former and keep her from the latter? Just this. She has a family. That family belongs to Christ. Therefore she belongs to Christ. This is not something that Eden should fear, as if her father would somehow be a cause of grief to her, instead of blessing. On the contrary, he will love her and teach her how the McMasters live, worship, eat, dress, talk and think. When she disobeys, her father will love her with kindness, hardness, spankings, hugs, tears, forgiveness, restoration, and healing. Without her mother, she would die. Without her father, she would be wanton. Without her brothers and sisters, she would grow eminently self-centered and selfish.

It is not enough for her to say that she has been born into God’s good world. She needs to be born into a godly family and nurtured in all the ways of God through obedience, wisdom, experience and familial expectations. This is a great blessing to her.

I hope you can make all the proper connections to life in the body of Christ. Although the threat of judgment is strong in faithful congregations, the threat of judgment is not the purpose of the relationship. The connection of covenant community is for blessing and not cursing. It is for nurture, growth, accountability, confession, repentance, restoration, healing, service, love, peace and unity. And partly because of the true threat of godly discipline, and the presence of real restorative discipline, all of these wonderful blessings can be enjoyed by the faithful.

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