There’s discipline. And then there’s punishment.
They’re not the same thing.
And the parenting style you are familiar with will color your view of God.
I agree with J. I. Packer’s conclusion, “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”
Now, I don’t know what you experienced as a child but, more times than not, I was punished. I think that just developed a rebellious streak in me. And added an armor of resentment (making it more of a swath than a streak.)
Even though the punishment was at the hands of a stepmother, rather than my often absent and passive father, it affected my view of both parents and those in authoritative roles. Therefore, my fear of God as Father was more about feeling threatened than it was about reverence. Or adoration.
Until! (That profound grace word!)
Until I heard the gospel. That glorious, outrageous, shocking good news about what the Savior saved me from . . . and for.
I was, as the gospel claims, born again by the Spirit through the gospel. Born of God through the Christ.
The gospel, as Jesus taught in the parable of all parables, was the seed planted deep in the soil of my heart. And with every one of His teachings on the Father, Jesus continued to water that seed to take root and grow a better understanding of who God is as Father.
Most fortunately, when I learned the truth about God and came to know Him, in all His goodness and grace, my malformed beliefs were reformed.
Now I know that all my rebellion was ultimately rebellion against God.
But! (Another profound grace word!)
But, where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
Instead of getting what I deserve as a rebel, I am loved and declared a child of God because of my relationship with Jesus. Instead of punishment, I receive forgiveness . . . justification . . . grace. Instead of death, eternal life. And now I am disciplined for my good . . . as a child.
God won’t shame you . . . belittle or condemn you . . . or act unrighteously toward you, child.
As His adopted child, we receive so much new! Along with a new life in Christ, we are graced with a new relationship with God as Father, we get a new family, a new identity, a new heart, a new citizenship, and new traits to exercise by the Spirit’s power.
That’s not like any father I know. You?
If you’re in Christ, His Father is yours. Therefore, assess your view of Him as Father through His. Ask yourself how your experiences with your earthly father have influenced your view of your Heavenly Father. Determine how your opinions and beliefs shade your view of God.
Rather than casting a shade, shine a light on the Father who perfectly loves you by finding a community of believers where you can prayerfully study the Scriptures to expand and deepen that view.
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