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Dear Church Family,
God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:10-11
For Your Own Good
The gospel promises that God created us with the capacity to experience a life that is peaceful, joyful, and satisfying. Following Jesus enables us to tap into our full capacity so we can live life the way God intended. It sounds simple, but it takes effort and it can be a painful process.
A great athlete might “make it look easy” but often the training that athlete had to endure to reach their potential was anything but easy or pleasant. Success in any endeavor often demands that the person who wants to reach their full potential must endure times when they feel stretched and uncomfortable. It requires trusting that the teacher or coach knows how to best prepare them for success.
In life, we are the students, and we face a constant temptation to make our lives easier in the moment. Short cuts lead to bad habits, which ultimately diminish our ability to perform and we might not even notice what happened. A good teacher, however, recognizes when we are no longer ‘on our game’ and calls us back to make adjustments. It can be hard to hear that we are falling short of our potential and need to get back in alignment, especially when getting back into good form feels foreign.
The good news is that we are made in God’s form and likeness which means that our potential is immense. The challenging part of that equation is that because we are made in God’s image, we can never be truly content with ‘bad form.’ In part, this is what Jesus means when he says that we must lose our selves for his sake and for the gospel if we are to find our real selves. As St. Augustine wrote, “A soul will find no rest until it rests in God.” This means that we can only find rest and a balanced life by being in alignment with our creator. As a chiropractor might say, “when out of alignment, an adjustment is needed, and it will likely be uncomfortable to get your head back on straight.” Physically and spiritually this is the only way to be well.
In the scripture above, the author of Hebrews says, “God disciplines us for our good…” God is the first and primary actor in our growth that gets us into alignment with Him. We love God because God first loved us. Just like the coach who can see we are off our game before we even realize it, God’s grace is flowing to us well before we have any idea that a change is necessary or even possible.
It is comforting to know that our teacher and coach knows our capacities better than we do and is committed to our reaching our potential. The primary task for us to show up for class, to do the drills that the coach assigns, and to trust that there is a master plan for our development whether we know it or not. Sometimes it is also necessary to relax and let the “divine chiropractor” put us back in alignment.
Each of us in on a spiritual pilgrimage in the company of fellow classmates. Let us do our part to be good students and seek the instruction that our Lord and teacher is eager to provide, so that we too might enjoy “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”