The Christian Attitude toward life is the optimism that through Jesus my life is a grace G.O.O.D.: a God orchestrated opportunity for development, disposition, and doxology. Having looked at the “G” (“G” is for God) in the acronym, we move now to the first “O.” It stands for orchestration.

Orchestration means arrangement. Arrangement involves two things: first, it involves a goal; secondly, it involves a detailed plan for accomplishing that goal. So, Beethoven had the goal of composing his magnificent “Fifth Symphony” and accomplished his goal through a detailed plan of specific notes for each musician to play.

What does orchestration have to do with our living as Christians? Everything.

Encouragement in the Face of Persecution

Imagine you’re a pastor writing to a group of Christians who’re sheep being mauled by the wolf of persecution. In other words, you’re writing to believers who are experiencing a really, really bad thing. You want to comfort them and encourage them to cling to their faith. How will you do that? What will you say to them?

The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews had just that rock and hard spot difficult task. He’s writing to Jewish people who have become Christians. These followers of Jesus have already experienced persecution right after they became believers.

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:32-34)

Now, like a cancer that has returned after being in remission, the persecution is happening again. So, what does the writer of Hebrews have to say to these dear people of God going through the hard thing of persecution a second time?

This:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Paideia

The heart of the point the writer makes to these suffering believers is found in verse 7: “Endure hardship as discipline.” The word for “discipline” in this and in verses 8-11 is paideia (pronounced pie – day – uh). So, when the writer says endure hardship—remember, it’s the hardship of persecution—as paideia, he’s telling the Hebrew Christians and us how we’re to look at the hardships we face.

King David said of Goliath’s sword “there’s none like it.” Paideia is the “none like it” New Testament word for us when bad things pounce on us and leave us battered and bruised.

Paideia (“discipline”) is a domestic word. It speaks of a father’s orchestration of his child’s life for the child’s good. In ancient Greece the best thing that could happen to a child was for it to become an adult who could enjoy the privileges and fulfill the responsibilities of adult living. It was the father’s responsibility to orchestrate the child’s life with this goal in mind. The father did this by bringing his child through training every day, all day long, to help the child mature mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Now, says the writer of Hebrews, when bad things happen to you (as they will to each of us), “endure them as discipline”—see them as paideia. In other words, look at, consider, face, handle even the worst things that happen to you as part of your heavenly Father’s orchestrated training of you for the good of helping you become spiritual adults capable of glorifying and enjoying him fully.

God Controls Everything

In verse 5 the writer says seeing life (including the bad things) as paideia (orchestrated by God for our good) will “encourage” us. It will if we remember that God’s paideia involves these five things:

1. Seeing life as paideia means that God controls everything that happens to us.Think again of what these Hebrew Christians were experiencing: persecution! Yet in verse 5 the writer describes this as “the Lord’s discipline”; in verse 7 he says of this, “God is treating you as sons”; in verse 10 he says “God disciplines ”

From start to finish the writer reminds us that God’s DNA is on even the worst things that happen to us. We may say even of these things what Jesus says to Pilate as Pilate sentences him to the worst thing that happened to him: “You have no power over me that was not given you from above” (John 19:11).

 2. Seeing life as paideia means that it’s as our heavenly Father that God controls everything that happens to us.The emphasis of the entire passage is on the fact that God is our Father through Jesus. So, in verse 5 the writer says, “You have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons . . .”; in verse 7 he says, “God is treating you as sons . . .”; in verse 9 he tells us God deals with us as “the Father of spirits”.

Paideia means God doesn’t govern our lives as a self-centered despotic King, out to get something from us but unconcerned with giving anything back. He doesn’t govern our lives as a black robed judge eager to throw the book at us when we fail. He governs our lives as our Father. Meaning, he governs us for our good.

3. Seeing life as paideia means that everything God allows to come into our lives is an expression of his love for us. The writer says in verse 6, The Lord disciplines those whom he loves.” Because we struggle with the idea that God is being loving with us when he allows us to suffer, our next post will be on “How Can God’s Love and Our Pain Go Together?”

But for now, remember, the same Bible that teaches us that God shows us his love by sending Jesus for us (John 3:16) also teaches us that God is showing us how much he loves us by allowing us to go through really, really hard times. That’s clearly the message of Hebrews 12:6.

4. Seeing life as paideia means that the bad things God allows in love are sent for the purpose of helping us develop into spiritual adulthood.The BEST thing that can happen to us is for us to become men and women who can fully experience God’s love for us and love him fully with the totality of our being in return. Only spiritual adults can do this. So, the best thing God can do for us is help us grow into spiritual adulthood. That’s exactly what he’s up to with the bad things he allows.

Hebrews 12:10 says, “God disciplines us for our good” which is, “that we may share in his holiness.” A Christian in rags, with ravaged health, is better off than Bill Gates living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The day will come when everyone sees this. And everything God does with us is preparing us for that day.

5. Seeing life as paideia means that our lives—from birth to death, every day, all day long—are orchestrated by God with the goal of making you into a perfect spiritual adult.In verse 10 the writer contrasts an earthly parent’s paideia with the heavenly Father’s. “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good.” The idea is that while a human parent’s training stops when the child leaves home, God’s spiritual children never leave home.

God continues orchestrating our lives for our good until we breathe our last and hear Jesus say, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”

This is how biblical Christianity encourages us in our hard times. It tells us to see the bad things we face as our heavenly Father’s paideia: his dealings with us for our good. In other words, to face them with The Christian Attitude of optimism that through Jesus this is a grace G.O.O.D.: a God orchestrated opportunity for development, disposition, and doxology.

“O” is for orchestration.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

 

Want to learn more? Check out our Recommended Reading Page!


3 Responses to Why Do Bad Things Happen to Christians?
  1. […] last two posts we’ve examined the truth that O is for Orchestration by answering the questions “Why do bad things happen to Christians?” and “How can God love us yet subject us to pain?”. Now, we turn our attention to the […]

  2. […] last week’s post, we looked at the Bible’s answer to the question, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Christians?”. The Bible says, “Because God orchestrates them.” His DNA’s on every one of […]

  3. […] we conclude our series on the O in our acronym, which stands for orchestrated. It reminds us that God is ultimately […]


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