Is being a follower of Jesus primarily about experiencing and living in God’s love, or primarily about living out the disciplines of discipleship? Is it about knowing that we are loved and accepted as we are, or about the need for change and transformation on the journey from sin to salvation? Is it about allowing God to do his sovereign work in us, or about the things we need to do in response to his love? To each of these questions, dear Reader, I am sure you are crying ‘False dichotomy!’—and yet many church contexts and cultures lean to one of these rather than the other, and it shapes the preaching, teaching and general ethos of the church community.
Does God disciplines those whom God loves? At first glance, this question is easy to answer in the light of Prov 3.12: clearly, yes. But a single text cannot settle an issue, especially a text that talks of discipline in physical ways (‘spare the rod and spoil the child…’; compare Prov 13.24) which we now find problematic for all sorts of reasons. And yet the principle is reappropriated in the new covenant in Hebrew 12.6, and in the context of the eschatological struggle between the power of sin and the work of the Spirit, as an illustration of what it means to be children of God—so it is not easily set aside.