Discipleship = Discipline

No one likes to be disciplined.  You and I would say a person who enjoys discipline is crazy.  I mean seriously, you’ve got to be some kind of masochist if you really enjoy discipline.  Yet, the strongest men and women are those who have gone through some of the most severe suffering.  So I guess there is something to be said for enduring difficulty with the power of Christ’s Holy Spirit.

Strong in the broken places

If you fall down and break your leg- after the doctors set your leg- you’re going to have to go through a long painful period of physical therapy.  That physical therapy is very painful at the time because your leg is weak and needs to grow stronger. Once the link starts to get stronger the physical therapy becomes less painful. Eventually, the break is strong enough that you don’t need therapy at all because you are able to stand on your own two feet.  Discipline is a lot like physical therapy. The more weak the limb, the more painful the physical therapy. The weaker the believer, the more painful the discipline.  Once the believer gets strong enough in their faith, the physical therapy of discipline becomes much less painful.

If you look at the root meaning of the word disciple you’re going to see the word discipline.  The truth is you can’t be a disciple if you are not disciplined. Sometimes that discipline comes from the Lord and sometimes you discipline yourself.

God the loving father

Hebrews chapter 12 gives us the idea of God as a father that disciplines us when we need it.  Although the chapter doesn’t use this language, I think it implies that if we don’t discipline ourselves, he will discipline us.  In other words, either you resist temptation and submit yourself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit willingly, or God sometimes makes our life miserable so that we will submit to his lordship.

I guess the question becomes do you want God to disappoint you or do you want to discipline yourself?  If you want to grow stronger, you’ve got to discipline yourself.  If you want to be a disciple of Christ, you’ve got to be disciplined.  If you claim God as your father, then you submit to his discipline.  I’m not sure there is such a thing as a Christian life without discipline.

Further reading