(April 11, 1990)
I love my kids. I care about their happiness, health and education. I want them to function well in life and achieve meaningful goals. I’ve hurt when they fall down and tried to stop them when they did something life-threatening. Most parents do the same, right? Loving our kids enough to set rules, or even use force to stop them from hurting themselves is not a difficult concept to understand. What puzzles me is why we resist the same kind of love, no, a purer more noble love, from our heavenly Father.
God, like us, cares if His children are happy and healthy. When He came in the person of Jesus Christ, He gave joy, healed the sick and met human needs. He also cares about what we learn, even gave us a “textbook” for life and the Holy Spirit to help us understand and follow it. He wants us to function well, to live meaningful lives. Besides that, He will help us do it, promising to supply all of our needs “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Our parenting pales beside His kindness and His ability to provide.
But as any parent, He is grieved when we do things that hurt ourselves or others. As “children”, we may not think some things are wrong or we may not understand how our actions could ruin our life or someone else’s, but like many a loving father, He foresees consequences that we are too immature or inexperienced to see for ourselves. So when He tells us to “stop it,” surely He has our good in mind.
Hebrews 12 points out how God, like a father who chastens a child he loves, will chasten (“train or discipline”) those HE loves. While the chapter doesn’t specify what kind of chastening or training He uses, our own parenting might be a good example. Imagine a child who wants to play in the middle of a busy street. His father says he cannot. The child asks why. The father may explain or he may say, “Just do as you’re told.” Whatever the case, imagine how unloving a parent would be if that child ran out to play on the street anyway and he or she only commented, “Who cares? let him find out the hard way.”
We would never condemn a parent for putting a gate on the yard to keep his toddler safe inside but when God throws restraints in our path so we won’t hurt ourselves, we chafe and complain. How easily we forget that love doesn’t look the other way when children disobey. Love cares enough to do something about disobedience, knowing it can lead to destruction.
God’s love invites us to share in His holiness rather than live in our ungodliness... not just to satisfy His nature but because it is best for us that we forsake sin and rebellion and follow Him. Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:24: “The LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive...”
Like children, we have to see Him as a wise and loving Father who wants what is best for us, not a kill-joy who is cramping our style. Jeremiah understood. He told God’s people, “Your iniquities have turned away these GOOD things, and your sins have withheld GOOD from you.”
We are so quick to blame God if things go badly, yet He is the loving Father who faithfully warns us regarding the consequences of our BEHAVIOR even though we often ignore Him and get ourselves into trouble.
Does His love end when we persist in rebellion? Some parents disown their children if they go too far but this Parent, while we were busily going too far, loved us so much that He “sent Christ to die for us.” What we do about Christ will determine whether or not God ever says: “ENOUGH!”
Right now, His love is still available. When anyone puts their faith in Jesus Christ, trusting Him for eternal life, they are made members of the family of God, and brought into the joy of knowing that “nothing... shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. His parental love, including the discipline, surely is for our good... always.