History and Authority Abuse
I remember history class in Middle School and High School. We studied the progression from crazy authoritarian leaders in Greek and especially Roman history. Then we studied some few good kings of England and the vast array of evil kings like Henry the VIII, “off with her head!” he said to his wives when they didn’t satisfy his every insane desires. How Popes’ misused their authority and gained wealth from nations in the guise of bringing their religion. I remember how British authoritarianism caused our forefathers to leave England and how once in the promise land of America we were able to start a government “For the People, by the People” where everyone had a say and rather than the authority dealt from the top down. Democracy was the hope of the nations because it was the answer to the authoritarian problem of history.
This picture is wonderful and all but it leaves out some crucial things, what about the good kings? What about the good Popes or the foundation of that religion that those authoritarian loving Pope’s misused?
Now, if you know me you know I’m a big believer that the US Constitution is one of God’s great gifts to humanity. With the Bill of Rights, Checks and Balances and foundation on the dignity of the person found in God it is an amazing document and founded an amazing government. I do want to challenge our strong stance against authority that our society has though. I think because of the extreme way we tend to look at things we dismiss aspects of authority that are not only good but are necessary for the sort of society everyone desires.
Rejection of Discipline
Remember the movement away from spanking? Or the modern notion of letting children choose their gender? There is an idea deep in our society that “forcing” one’s views on another is always wrong. Forcing, meaning to apply effort in convincing something they don’t immediately accept. Don’t spank your kids if they want to do things that are wrong or harmful instead let them just do it and they should learn on their own its bad for them. While this has some good applications, like preventing child abuse from parents that think they can beat the good into their kids, it has plenty of ill effects as well. As a manager/leader in my job and as a life coach/discipleship promoter in the church, whenever I introduce a discipline to someone else I usually get the same response. First, there is a kind of looking down the other persons nose at you, then there is some comment in a sarcastic tone “Well that’s great for you” then comes the “but” and you know your advice fell on deaf ears. Pastors say that asking people to take on specific disciplines is cruel, makes people feel bad about themselves and doesn’t consider the whole person. Often without having even received much push back themselves. In our culture they say “you shouldn’t say should”.
Discipline and Love
My wife recently asked the question, “Why does it seem like those strong Christians in China are so much more supportive of others than strong Christians here?” The answer came almost immediately, they weren’t adverse to discipline and when they became Christians they disciplined themselves in a Christian way. The Christian ladies in my wife’s hometown recently made a name for themselves. After the loss of my father in law, they offered to care for my mother in law who had crippled both legs. They did this without thinking. They simply saw the problem and because they had been disciplined from young to act when they saw a need in their family, they immediately began to take actions, because they were Christians this Christian sister deserved that family kind of love. This plays out in a dozen different ways children are told “you should” visit your friends and help them, so they visit other believers regularly. “You should” study hard and memorize, so they learned scripture well and are thus convicted by it. Those “you shoulds’” applied to Christian truth really caused them to shine in these weeks and my wife’s whole atheist family went on about how shockingly good these Christian ladies were. The ladies themselves couldn’t stop sharing the joy they had and sending them singing worship songs to people.
Bridging the Gap
So, consider discipline! Consider looking into developing habits that others have themself taken on. We should loosen our individualism fortress walls on our life and allow those who have maturity speak authoritatively into our own spiritual walk. When we listen to the you should, make the first hard step of saying “yes I should, but I don’t yet” you are on your way to getting there. Discipline is the sort of thing that starts hard but once it is a life habit it comes almost effortlessly. We are all disciplined by something sadly most of what has disciplined us is just what has come to us, discipline to turn Netflix on at a certain time, disciplined to check Twitter… Its the same process of repetition and desire that brings good habits as well. Want and authentic life that moves effortlessly into doing good for others? Start with discipline and God’s word.