After I got adopted, I lived in a little country town and we went to one of the two main churches there, one was Baptist and the other, where we went, was Pentecostal. My dad was a deacon and my mom was the children’s church leader. Every time the doors were open, we were there. I loved going to church because it was my only social outlet. I never fit in at school. I was a city girl in a small town where everybody was related to everybody. I tried to make people like me, but it always backfired. I can’t think of one single friend I had there. My friends were at church.
The pastor was great and his wife was beautiful. I was drawn to her because I could tell she was a city girl at heart, too. They had two kids, a rambunctious red-headed little boy and a little girl that took after her mom. In small town churches, the other adults have no problem disciplining other people’s kids. I was either sneaky enough, scared enough, or too old to get into much trouble, but the pastor’s son seemed to get in trouble a lot. It wasn’t that he was doing anything really wrong, it was that he was a little boy with an entire church that must have felt like it was an extension of his house.
I would watch people correct him, over and over, and I always felt bad for him. If my dad knew that some other adult had to discipline me, I would be in so much trouble… Someone would tell him to settle down and my head would snap up to search his mother’s face. I would see her give him a stern look. But when the other adult felt like their duty had been done and turned their attention elsewhere, I would see her smile at him. Almost to say, “You’re okay.” She had that ‘mother’ smile. The kind that is drenched with love. I watched his tension soften and his mouth curve up. He got the message. Both of them.
Parent’s know why their kids do the things they do. Maybe the rambunctious red-head had been at the church all day while his parents worked and maybe he was tired or bored. A parent knows when their child is being defiant and when they need to be given some room to squirm.
Only a person who really knows you and loves you should be the one to discipline you. We all need it from time to time, but not from everyone, and not for every little thing. We’re people who, sometimes, need the room to squirm. Only a person who loves you unconditionally should be allowed to correct you. Otherwise, the threat of being unloved overshadows the correction. Everybody needs someone who can catch your eye and let you know that you’re going to be okay.
People thrive under the safety and security of unconditional love. Ask any psychologist and they’ll tell you that many of the disorders they treat are from people who did not have someone who loved them unconditionally. One huge way a church family can combat the pain and disruptive behavior of the people all around them is to make sure that they know that God loves them unconditionally. If the collective church is the Body of Christ, then the individuals must be able to love people unconditionally. That is the only setting in which any kind of discipline will work.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” -Hebrews 12:5-6
That’s the epitome of the stern look and the smile.
When a person loves you, they can correct you and soothe you at the same time. You can get the stern look, not to be taken lightly. Then you can see that smile, so you’re not drained empty. You’ll get both messages.
Unless you’re deliberately cruel, you wouldn’t discipline someone you didn’t plan to be around, you would just bully him until you got rid of them.
“You can’t discipline me if you don’t love me. If you don’t love me, then your discipline is not from God, because He loves me.”
Now the rambunctious little boy is the worship leader of a huge Pentecostal church in a bigger town and the beautiful daughter has made three more just like her.
Correction stings, but if you lower your head, you’ll miss the smile that tells you, “You’re okay.” You won’t know that you’re drenched in Love.