I have to admit I am getting a little sick and tired of hearing the whining of people who have gotten their feelings hurt because their pastor or spiritual mentor was brutally honest with them in an area of life that needed to be changed. It's as if we have Christian love that only speaks of nice things and shares what people want to hear and not necessarily what they need to hear. We see God's children jumping from church to church, like some dis-functional family, simply because they got their feeling hurt. And their reason for leaving? It's because they say that they don't feel loved.
Well if love is giving me what I need so that I can function as the missionary that Christ has called me to live - then some of the most loving people in my life have been those you have been the hardest on me! To be truthfully honest with you some of the men that I appreciate the most, who have contributed the most to me living a missional life, or who have help me form the leadership qualities I have today I didn't always appreciate! As a matter of fact I was angry at them and thought all manner of evil against them. At least at the time when I was being confronted by them. But now, in hindsight, I am so grateful to them. Because of their loving hardness and unrelenting pressure I now have the Christian character that allows me to live a missional life that shines the Light of Christ. Because of their tenacity I am more of the man that God would want me to be.
Therefore, I am grateful to such men like my father who loved me enough to discipline me for my bad behavior; my football coach, Bill Marsh, of whom I uttered more than a few "cus" words under my breath because of his hardness and unwillingness for me to settle for anything less than being a strong leader that our team needed; for my church planting mentor, Tony Rosenthal, who on more than one occasion called me on the carpet for a bad attitude or being neglectful of my responsibilities. These men cared more about my character than they did about my comfort and God used these men to forge in me a Godly character that He could use for His glory.
The comfort we all seek and the handholding that we desire will come when Christ returns and He wipes away our tears.
Today we need to allow God to forge a character in us that will allow us live in this sinful world but not of this sinful world. Today we need to embrace the hardness, the discipline, and the unrelenting pressure that God brings our way that will produce a life fully devoted and prepared for every good work. And God uses other people in our lives, sometimes pastor and other times ordinary Christians to be the instruments of that refining process. So don't get upset but rejoice for God wants to use you.
Let's take Hebrews for what it says and an encouragement to not take lightly or to lose heart when we are being disciplined by the Lord. He does it because He loves us. Discipline, hardness are not signs of Gods lack of favor but of His love for us.