I was born in the late 70’s – an era devoid of helicopter parents, mandatory seat belts, flu shots, internet, accurate food labeling and electric instruments in church. It was also an era where a darn’d good spanking was the prescription for any number of life’s childhood indiscretions. Remember way back then? Ah, the good ol’ days.
Even today, pretty much no one looks at a child who is writhing on the floor of Walmart and screaming like The Alien and thinks that what they need is a gluten-free cookie and a stern talking to in their time-out La-Z-Boy. Admit it, you’re thinking: somebody spank that kid! You know why you think like that? Because you know that sometimes “experience” is a better teacher than “instruction”.
We all want times of refreshing in church, but times of spanking? Get thee behind me, Satan! I’ve noticed that God tends to use other Christians to step in as needed, but then, when we receive unpleasant feedback or a corrective word or when when we’re called out on our rebellious/sinful behavior by church leadership, we throw ourselves on the floor and scream, or take our toys and go home or… we eat our humble pie and work through it and grow from it. Been there, done that. Just me?
Food for thought: We can rage against the machine, abandon church and spread as much vitriol and criticism as possible or realize there is a wiser purpose in being corrected and that the word “disciple” and the word “discipline” are closely related. Which are you?
For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) No one is perfect and we all need a swift kick in our spiritual pants every so often. That’s what pastors are for- be nice to them! Hebrews 13:17 puts it this way: “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” We all experience seasons where we’ve wandered off course and when it’s time to face the music, the way we respond shows the real condition of our hearts. That’s because the root of all rebellion is anger at God’s authority. Ouch.
We don’t “obey” spiritual authority because we’re in a cult and they’ve seized our assets or because we are mindless drones amid a collective of non-thinking automatons. We submit to them spiritually because we gave them that authority when we started attending their church! So, when we struggle and they see it, a loving pastor will pull rank and step in. And if we will submit to the process, we will grow from it. I’ve learned – through, ahem, “experience” – that any loving parent will set boundaries and enforce them as necessary for the benefit, protection and growth of a child they love. Man up. Take your lumps and move ahead.
These days spanking is as controversial as fluoride in the water, naturally-occurring chicken pox and using the wrong gender pronoun, but even so, you can’t deny that the prisons back in the day were less full then they are now- and the churches more full. It was a simpler time.