Sunday, November 5, 2017

Oswald Weighs In

Nearly every morning I read the day's selection from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This morning the excellent devotion contained this thought:

In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering—the way of the “long road home.”

Excerpt From: Chambers, Oswald. “My Utmost for His Highest.
 Interestingly, most of what the church does today is geared toward seeking to carry out God's orders through a shortcut of our own. Evangelism programs are my favorite example, but they're just the easiest of many, many things the church does via easy shortcuts.

How do we do evangelism via our own shortcuts? Put simply, we change the goal. So it's probably not true that we carry out God's orders -- instead, we rewrite the orders to make them achievable by our own methods. So with evangelism, instead of "proclaiming the kingdom" as Jesus sent his followers to do, we change the orders -- and we make evangelism about getting people into heaven and helping them avoid hell. We do this even though that was never the assignment Jesus gave us.

It's a lot easier to scare someone with fears of hell and entice them with images of heaven. For the sake of their own self interest, they may well choose to "become a Christian" -- and we feel good about following God's orders.

Trouble is, Jesus gave us a much more difficult assignment. He didn't say, "Go out and scare people with hell and entice them with heaven so that based on their own self interest they will give their hearts to me." He said, proclaim the kingdom of God. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' That's different from making people fear hell.

We don't much like "the long road home." We certainly don't like the way of suffering. We like a simple task that we can accomplish before suppertime. Trouble is, that's not what Jesus left us with.

Proclaiming the kingdom of God is a much more difficult and challenging task. It will take us a lot more careful study in order to learn what Jesus means by these words. And it will result in asking / inspiring / challenging / inviting people to know Jesus as Lord and to follow him as his disciples. Now those are phrases and ideas that we do, actually, find in the gospels.

Next post we'll get back to unpacking a biblical view of the task of the church.

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