Friday, August 03, 2012

An Unpopular God and An Unpopular Practice- Hebrews 12

HEBREWS 12:Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits land live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Glorious hardship! Christ Himself is the example. And light vs darkness will always involve conflict.
The verses 3 and 4 have always seem comparative to me. It is that Christ Himself experienced hostility and we will too. Spiritual living is a war. But no matter how intense our fight is- His battle was still the ultimate.

The there are comments about a dying trait and practice in our society- discipline.

Why do these verses seem so dark and foreign? It is because American families are losing their will to discipline their children.

There was a time growing up where parents disciplined quite harshly. Coaches used paddles and dads did not play. My mom stung my legs with a bush branch. She tore the leaves off and sent me dancing.

My dad used his belt.

Did they mess up? Yes, And the Bible infers the mess-up: For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good. In other words, they were doing the best they could, but they fell short.

I do have contact with parents who still have a firm hand on their children. But it is actually tough on them to do so because the trend is to cause no pain. My most frustrating conversations involve parents who want tough rules, for everyone else, but get angry for consequences that I assign.

The result? We have a generation who defines pain as hate. They perceive "NO" as loveless.

But true love involves discipline. Short term pain for long term prosperity. We give consequences as a teacher. We want our children to experience those consequences now- because life deals out harsher results later.

There are MANY types of disciple referred to in Hebrews 12. Perseverance when persecuted, self discipline, and parental discipline- and all of it is painful or not pleasant- but all of it is beneficial.

We are just a few days removed from the interesting controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A and its CEO . Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times summed up the genesis of the stand-off like this: 
On July 16 (2012), an online Southern Baptist publication quoted Dan Cathy, whose family owns the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain, saying he endorses “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Right away, liberal mayors insisted the poultry outfit avoid their gay-friendly cities.
Rahm Emanuel in Chicago: "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's Values."
Ed Lee in San Francisco: "Closest Chick-fil-A is 40 miles away and I strongly recommend they not try to come any closer. Very disappointed." 
Thomas Menino in Boston: "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston." 
By contrast, conservative Christians and two former presidential candidates — Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum — asked their supporters to eat more Chick-fil-A, in solidarity with the Cathys, if not with chickens.
The resulting Chick-Fil-A appreciation day on Aug 1 and the "Kiss-In" Response on Aug 3 has resulted in an explosive campaign of ideas in the social media and web.

I have NOTHING MORE to add to the debate. Progressives see Chick-Fil-A's stance on traditional marriage and donations to conservative groups that oppose gay marriage as distributors of hate and discrimination. Conservatives bristle at that charge- and respond by citing free speech and freedom of religion issues. And it looks like a divide in which the twain shall never meet.

The toughest part of the back and forth is when some of the supporters of gay marriage point to Jesus and say, "He never spoke out against homosexuality, He was never married, and where is obedience to His command to love?"

Evangelical Christians respond to those 3 arguments like this:

Jesus spoke in high regard for the Mosaic Law, even saying He did not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it. He is the one who says, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two will become one flesh (definitely traditional view of God ordained marriage). Just because Jesus was not married has no bearing on His teaching regarding marriage and divorce.

But the big one is 'Where is the Love?'. This is what has happened to our society when we substitute the word 'NO' for 'HATE"?

When a person stands up and says, "God has said 'Do not do that'." How is that hate?

No doubt there have been terrible things done to people who are homosexual. But my guess is that it is only the lunatic fringe on both sides of the issue that are engaged in harmful or improper attacks.

The bottom line is that Christians do believe that any activity that is declared SIN in Scripture is harmful. Christians do not like the practice of homosexuality nor an adulterous act that tears apart a family.

And Christians believe that the consequences for such acts are results of and contained in the acts themselves.

It is not hate that says NO, it is concern.

But very few outside of the Biblical world view will ever understand that.

It is not popular to administer discipline, but it is a loving act. To fail to do so is the real hate.

Rick Warren said it well:
 Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

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