Law and Grace
Martin Luther said that “Law is for the hard-hearted and Grace is for the broken or soft-hearted.”
God requires perfection from all of us that we are unable to attain. Children, parents, and all staff need to understand that God only accepts perfection. It is then that we can begin to fathom the true grace of the Gospel. We need real, tender, heavy, law in order to understand the amazing, counter-intuitive grace of the Gospel God gives everyday.
The Adora community is a place where we seek to live out Law and Gospel moment by moment. We actively avoid legalism because it says God will love us if we change. We actively engage living out the gospel which says God will change us because he loves us.
God is not looking for only compliance; neither are we at Adora. We do not practice punishment for the sake of getting a pound of flesh or changing behavior for the moment. Law–with tenderness–is shown to learners when their behavior demonstrates a hard-heart. God’s counter-intuitive Grace is given when children begin to demonstrate a softer heart. A child who is stuck functioning in their amygdala needs the heavy weight of God’s law–given with tenderness–so they can step out of their fear, clearly see their sin, and begin to crave God’s grace. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.
Connection is always the main goal with our learners. Isolation is rarely an effective technique. We believe in time-in, not time-out. We carefully set appropriate boundaries for each individual learner. Learners begin with boundaries that keep them close to adults, supervision, and the opportunity to experience real connection. As learners mature emotionally, physically, and spiritually, the boundaries slowly expand while still keeping their connection with animals, learners, staff, and parents.
In order to build that connection, we avoid shaming the child. We must constantly give feedback–both positive and negative–to our learners. When a child acts out, we come alongside the child to let them know that the behavior is unacceptable and that we are on their team to help solve the problem.
Guilt, fear, and rules do not help the hard heart of a wounded child. Only a taste of grace is the best catalyst for real work in our lives. When a child has been openly defiant and disrespectful or even violent it can be difficult to see past their actions.
At Adora our goal is to get past all the walls and masks a child puts on to avoid dealing with the tough stuff that he or she may not even know is bothering them so that he or she can truly begin to heal. When a child stops “playing games” and starts showing the real self, warts and all, God is softening their heart. This is the time for true grace.