There is one thing that almost all of us can agree on. We don’t like discipline. That general feeling notwithstanding, discipline to principles is required of any nation. In the military, everything is run based on orders. Violation of orders subjects you to the discipline prescribed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Civil law, corporate regulations (to make things regular), the vehicle code, all try to create order and establish discipline.
A productive life requires discipline. If you want to be a combat swimmer in the Navy you must go through drown-proofing during the dive phase of training. As with all things, you have to hang together or you in trouble. You must discipline yourself if you are to survive. One way of demonstrating that is the beehive, wherein swimmers are pushed into the deep end of the pool by a line with floats attached. Cadre pull the floating line tighter, creating an ever-tightening group until you’re all shoulder-to-shoulder. Everyone treads water, trying to stay afloat. It only takes one person to break discipline, panic, and grab a shoulder to try to stay afloat and that person grabs the next guy and it sets off a chain reaction. Bedlam results and nobody treads water anymore.
The chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
There are a lot of elements to drown-proofing after the lesson of the beehive, and they are done with you in the water with your hands and feet tied. Completing the test requires that you exercise discipline. I won’t go into each element of the training, but you get the picture.
During the era when Rome ruled the world, the cohesiveness of its military – the discipline that they showed – was why they were successful. Breach of discipline could be flogging, crucifixion, or decimation based on the nature of the crime.
The root word in “Disciples of Christ” is DISCIPLINE. We all know that salvation comes to those who discipline themselves (Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Matt. 7:13–14]).
Jesus taught in Perea, east of the Jordan River and one of the people who had been following him was a wealthy young man. The man asked Jesus what he should do to find eternal life. First, Jesus advises the man to obey the commandments (DISCIPLINE). When the rich man responded that he already followed the Torah, and asked what else he should do, Jesus added
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The eye of the needle referred to was a gate in Jerusalem. To get through the low gate, the camel had to be unloaded and it went through walking on its knees.
The other of the rich men said to him “Master, what good thing shall I do and live?” He said to him “Man, perform the law and the prophets.” He answered him “I have performed them.” He said to him “Go, sell all that thou hast and divide it to the poor, and come, follow me.” But the rich man began to scratch his head, and it pleased him not. And the Lord said to him “How can you say ‘I have performed the law and the prophets? seeing that it is written in the law ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and look, many of your brothers, sons of Abraham, are clad with dung, dying for hunger, and your house is full of much goods, and there goes out therefrom naught at all unto them.” And he turned and said to Simon his disciple, sitting by him, “Simon, son of John, it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than a rich man into the kingdom of the heavens”.
You cannot serve God and be enslaved to the things of this world. (I paraphrased) Putting off the enticements of this world and following Christ required discipline then and it requires discipline now. Few people genuinely find that appealing. They prefer to pick and choose their “disciplines”.
Middle Eastern Religions
Medieval cathedrals weren’t actually supposed to be dark and rundown places with only stained glass as color. They were bright places full of light… the reason they look like that now is because of the centuries of accumulated grime and dust, here look at this restoration of the Cathedral of Chartres in France:
It’s based on actual paint from the times, and when you think about it, it makes a lot more sense, after all a church is supposed to be a bright place of hope. Yet when we think about the middle ages we think about grimy and dark cathedrals. I wonder how much of our conception of history is shaped by our current visions of historical buildings.