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Independence is Freedom?: Talking Discipline & Grace Together


Independence is Freedom?: Talking Discipline & Grace Together

Looking back after one year at Southwood Presbyterian Church, I can honestly say that I LOVE it here.  I absolutely love working with the staff, getting to know the congregation, and spending time with parents and children.  I count it a significant blessing to work at this church, and I feel like I’ve been able to truly connect and become a part of this wonderful community.  This community is about more than sharing common interests; it’s actually about getting to know family members with whom I’ll share a relationship for eternity.  Family is different than mere friendship.  We choose our friends but we don’t choose our family.  In Christ, we’re family because we share the same Father in heaven, and Scripture teaches us that our family has a name….the Church.  Saint Cyprian once said, “One cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church as his Mother.”  If I truly understand who I am in Christ, my new identity gives me the freedom to acknowledge that not only do I need my Savior, but I also need his people.  I need others to help me remember who I belong to as I walk through times of sadness, times of joy, and everything in between.

Acknowledging those difficult times, confessing that we don’t always have it all together, can be one of the hardest things to do in this life.  Why is that?  I think one of the reasons has to do with independence.  From an early age, we are taught that independence is freedom.  We spend a majority of our lives trying to make it to a point where we can be “on our own.”  Often times, the need to succeed in our quest for independence causes us to see others as competitors as opposed to teammates.  But God has created us to be dependent creatures.  In-DEPENDENCE on Christ is FREEDOM.  We are dependent creatures who live in a culture where independence is honored, whereas dependence is often viewed as a sign of weakness.  This reality has its origin in sin and creates frustration for us as we all possess a fear of being known.  Thanks be to God for the truth.  We serve an awesome God who has created us to live in freedom as we are known by him and others.  First and foremost, God has wired us for a relationship of dependence on him.  Secondly, he’s given us his church as a biblical community of grace where our relationship with him can be fostered and expressed.  It is in the church where we find the family of God expressing the love of God to each other and those around them.  They call one another to live in dependence on God and to focus on the truth. Jesus is that truth.  Living in biblical community points me to Jesus.

While relationships are God-given, they can also feel dangerous sometimes. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there is an insightful dialogue between Susan and Mr. Beaver when C.S. Lewis writes, “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”...“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver ...“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  Much like our King, God himself, the church is not “safe,” but it is so very good.  We will never experience the life-changing community of God’s people if we are only looking for safety.  In Christ, God has given us himself and a family, a place to belong, a place where we can be known in our weakness as we encourage one another to depend on him for everything (John 1:12-13).  Relationships are not safe but they are good. 

With all this in mind, it’s important to be intentional about encouraging each other with gospel truth as we journey together.  Parenting can be one of the most challenging spiritual battlefields.  In an effort to encourage the families of the Southwood Kids program, we’ve designed intentional environments of encouragement that we call Parent Cafés.  These are evenings and environments designed for us to C-onnect, A-cknowledge that we don’t have it all together, F-ocus on what really matters, and E-ncourage each other.  In short, these are evenings designed to support, encourage, and help equip each other for this journey called parenting.  Would you consider joining us at 6pm in the Lodge on Tuesday, September 18 for our first Southwood Kids Parent Café of the school year?  We’ll be enjoying dinner together and discussing the parenting question, “How does grace apply when we’re called to discipline our children?” I hope that you’re able to join us as we take time to encourage each other in Christ.