Devotion: Prescriptive and Restrictive Faiths

“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 12:11

Recently, a kindergardener walked into Target with her mother to find a new pair of socks.  After surveying the large selection of multi-colored and different sizes, she selected a pair of socks that has printed each day of the week on its sole.  She viewed this with great excitement that she would no longer have to worry about which socks to wear on what day, because the socks would tell her.

I worry that for many of us, we approach our Christian faith in a similar way.  Either we want a rigid, prescriptive faith whose directions are clearly laid for us on the soles of our feet; or for many of us we rebel against any suggestion of discipline and structure and find Christianity far too restrictive.
The prescriptive folks want to be told clearly how much, how far, and how precise they have to follow God’s commands.  The stories of the Bible show us that God has not created a one-size fits all list of obligations; rather He engages each person on a personal level and seeks to provide boundaries, direction and grace to their stories.

The restrictive folks want to figure out how to avoid, minimize, and reduce the levels of God’s commands for our lives.  The stories of the Bible also show us that God desires us to be corrected, trained and disciplined in our faith so that we grow more and more in our obedience to Him.
The Christian faith is not prescriptive or restrictive–its freedom.  If Christ died for our pasts, they have been wiped clean.  And if Christ assured us salvation through the resurrection, our futures our secure.  This frees us to live in love today.  That is what disciples are…followers of Christ who are helping others find their way back to God.
Have you ever noticed how spell check wants to change the word “disciple” to “discipline?”  The two words are closely aligned as a disciple is a student who is seeking to follow in the footsteps of their teacher, and discipline is the boundaries, training and instruction given to a student in order to direct our paths.
How do you respond to the word “discipline?”  What images does it drum up for you?  Do you tend more towards a prescriptive faith or rebel against a restrictive one?  How might you be become more of a disciple (follower) of Jesus?

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