Tuesday, 1 May 2012

'God's not standing over you with a big stick.'

 It's a comforting aphorism often said in evangelical churches. It aims to assure people that God isn't a hard taskmaster who just wants to give you a beating, a worthy sentiment for sure.

 There's just one problem. God is standing over us with a big stick - two, in fact: 'your rod and your staff, they comfort me.' (Psalm 23:4) The rod for discipline and the staff for guidance. In our desire to emphasise the love of God, we emphasise the second. But comfort for the psalmist is found in the existence of the first, too. If God didn't discipline us, even severely, His love would not be true. It's a side to love that the evangelical church, while right to speak of God's mercy and gentleness, needs to remember.

'Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
    but he will heal us;
he has injured us
    but he will bind up our wounds.'
                                                - Hosea 6:1 (NIV)

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