Lately, I’ve been musing on congregational life in the local church, both its immense privileges as well as its responsibilities. The following is a “first instalment.”

As a child, I did not always heed my parents’ admonitions. Though they spoke straight to me, and though my ears caught the sounds of their words, and though I understood what they were saying, my will was so disposed that I would not heed. At such times, they would say something like, “Douglas!” (It was always the full name with an exclamation mark when I was in trouble!) “Listen up!” or, “Listen well!” They expected compliance, and if I failed to “listen well,” well, unpleasant consequences followed—not because they hated me, but because they loved me. If I rejected their parental authority, there was a sense in which I would lose some family privileges—including being sent to my room away from the family dinner table, or curtailment of TV privileges, or exclusion from some event, or some other sanction. They were lovingly helping me to learn to listen well—the first time. They knew that obedience was key to real happiness. And so they were willing to do the hard thing.

I am not sure where they learned such wise and constructive parenting, but they could have learned it from Jesus; specifically, in His words as recorded in Matthew 18.

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