The past couple of weeks I've spent a lot of time pondering the idea of adoption and what it represents. I guess in light of Easter and Christ's amazing gift it's hard not to think about our relationship with God and what it really means. I've heard it said time and again that adoption gives us understanding into our relationship with the Father. Sounds great but it's not something that can be easily grasped. It's like children that were raised in Urban areas and their understanding of the agricultural parables that Jesus told. It's hard to grasp the full concept and all that it entails when they've never been emerged in that world. I have found myself working through the idea of adoption. Being raised in a loving family with two parents and two brothers and a dog, it's hard for me to understand the full depth of adoption. I thank God that He allows us to get a glimpse of these concepts every now and then.
The thing that has really been on my heart is the idea of acceptance. The training we have received has been focused on loving the children and showing them unconditional love to establish a relationship with the children. That's the basis. Until basic needs are met it's foolish to focus on behavior...as behavior tends to be by-product of survival instincts. God accepts us as we are. He knows that are behaviors are a by-product of our sinful nature. That doesn't mean that He likes the behaviors, it just means that his relationship to us is more important than our actions. That's the starting ground.
Once that base is established then the behaviors can begin to be addressed. Through loving discipline and consequences He trains us to be more like Him. That's why we need a Savior. The old testament was written to show us the ultimate folly and behaviors of a sinful people. Christ came to establish a personal relationship in which the focus is on the relationship and not on all the legality. They taught us in the adoption training that behaviors will go away as the faith and security in the relationship grows. This means, as we draw close to God and realize that He supplies all our needs then we are able to grow in Him...we want to do right not because we're told to, but because we want to honor our Heavenly Father.
The process of acceptance and then discipline seems so tolerant....short term. If the goal is for a short term fix then stern discipline is the solution....short term. If the goal is for a healthy relationship, then it's important for both parties to spend time building the relationship. After the relationship is established, the discipline doesn't come from a strict dictator but from a loving Father. Perhaps that is why the 'Hellfire and Brimstone' sermons do so well in the short term but fail in the long term. They focus on the discipline and not the relationship. Jesus came so that we could have a relationship with our heavenly Father. My pastor always says, "He loves us to much to leave us the way we are." Thank God that He loves us enough to begin a relationship with us...because after all...it's all about Him.