Friday the gardners came and cut down all the rose bushes. They had beautiful roses on them and when my 2 year old saw the roseless bushes he said, “No more pretty flowers.” Not wanting to miss an opportunity to teach, my 8 year old jumped and said, “If they didn’t cut them there would never be any more roses.”
Church discipline is a lot like pruning roses. First, not many know how to prune roses properly or know when to prune them. Second, you’re probably going to get your finger pricked by at least one of the thorns. Third, if you don’t do it then nothing beautiful will come of it.
What I am learning is this:
1) People often hear what they want to hear or what they believe is true.
2) People will put up with bad doctrine and bad behavior to “keep peace.”
3) Discipline is necessary if the body of Christ is to live as a holy people.
I think we (21st century North American Christians) are so afraid of discipline because it is inconvenient. We run from the inconvenient and embrace the convenient. Convenient is defined as something that serves one’s own interests. It is more convenient for us to never confront a brother or sister about sin in their life. It is very dangerous for them, though. Loving each other means being willing to go to the hard places if necessary. I will say that seminary never prepared me for this. God is at work and I believe we will see growth from all of this. If nothing else I have an idea for a book, “Hitler, Heretic, and Healing: Practicing the Lost Art of Church Discipline.” The title came to me after being called Hitler in one meeting (that’s another story) and receiving a letter saying I am becoming Jim Jones and am leading my people to their death. Lord have mercy.