Discipline is a sensitive subject in our culture today and everyone seems to have different views. Scripture is clear that discipline is a good thing. That doesn’t means parents discipline to bring pain and punishment, but Scripture describes it as an act of love. (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12)
Foundation of Discipline: Call to Obedience
Many times we have a skewed understanding of obedience and when we read or hear the word “obey” we start to twitch a little because it reminds us of authority figures forcing us to do something we don’t want to do. In the end we can see obedience in one of three ways:
1. Obedience is for approval
2. Obedience is for rebellion
3. Obedience is for relationship
When we see obedience as approval we are constantly seeking the approval of others and God. People who see obedience as approval are usually people who try to do the “right thing”. They try to keep the peace in relationships, keep everyone happy, pay bills on time, and try not to rock the boat. They also tend to conclude when they are doing what they think people want them to do then people will be happy with them, and if they are not then people and God will be disappointed with them. It leads to a life of teetering back and forth.
When we see obedience as rebellion it is an opportunity for entertainment. People who see obedience as rebellion tend to be people who push the limits, fight authority, sometimes do the opposite, just to do the opposite no matter the consequences. This rebellion can be external where everyone can see the rebellion or it can be internal, below the surface, at the core of the heart resisting obedience. These people tend to fight God and people every step of the way and it leads to a lot of pain, isolation from God and others. It often times leads to hardened hearts because they are always going against the grain and fighting obedience.
Obedience is for Relationship:
Scripture gives us a completely different understanding of obedience. God doesn’t call us to an obedient heart. God doesn’t say do this, do it quick, and don’t ask any questions. Instead God chases after us, draws us close to Him, takes our wicked, deceitful, rebellious hearts of disobedience and dies for it upon the cross, dies for it, over comes it, and through faith in Jesus’ work on the cross we are given a new heart of obedience. Our obedience comes out of relationship. Jesus goes after our heart and gives us a new heart of obedience.
When we are calling our children to obedience it isn’t obedience to gain approval to be good little boys and girls. It isn’t obedience so they can rebel and go against the grain. It is an obedience that goes after their heart in relationship. We go after their heart just as God tirelessly goes after our heart. When we are calling our children to obedience it isn’t to seek our approval or rebellion, but to point them to one who gives them a new heart in Jesus Christ.