Lately as I read Oswald Chambers’ daily devotional, I was a bit bewildered at first. I read through it, wondering, still, and thought, “Okay, he seems to be right. But maybe, something is missing here…” Before telling you more, I want to show you the text I have been referring to.
The Right Kind of Help
And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all people
[s] to Myself. —John 12:32
Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery.
When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.
But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.
The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them.
Almost two weeks later, I must still say Oswald Chambers appears to me being both right and wrong here. Maybe, it was only his misleading verbalization or that the context that explained his ideas more precisely was missing. If he meant that we need to affirm that there is no other way to eternal life than through the Cross of Christ (esp. in our own lives, too), then he would be right.
However, if his thoughts went into the direction of confronting ‘spiritually lost’ people always with the need of the Cross before showing them sympathy and understanding for their personal situation, then he would be wrong. Of course, Chambers thought about humanism which excludes God and thus is an enemy of the Cross of Christ. Having written myself just recently about the fact that we cannot always be nice, I agree with Chambers on many things, even here.
But what I sometimes miss in his writings is a loving kindness toward other believers and particularly toward people who do not know our Savior yet. When reading his devotionals, I often find myself feeling “accused” in one way or the other. Although I am convinced that this writer was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I sometimes perceive a lack of (unconditional) love. Furthermore, I sometimes miss the emphasis of being Spirit-led regarding all our doing/speaking in his devotionals. I recall that he wrote about it at times, but I believe it can be easily taken wrongly if we read devotionals like this one I copied and pasted as you have seen above.
I do not mean to diminish Chambers’ achievements here in any way, but I want to encourage you to not take every word personal when you hear a preacher speaking or when you read (spiritual) writings, by Christian authors in particular. Most of the time they talk and write about their own experiences, whether they admit it or not. If they hate their current struggles, they sometimes “accuse” their audience and readers (by using an emphatic YOU) of that which has not yet been resolved in their own lives. In such cases, you might suddenly feel very small. Their questions might sound like “Is this YOUR problem?? Are YOU net yet through with this??” which makes you feel pretty uncomfortable, to say the least.
Having observed this saddening fact in my own writings, I know it is true. How often I reread an older article of mine and begin to edit it, that is, in order to soften the edges and to remove imperfections which I, though somehow perceived while writing at that time, thought were not that important. Well, I assume Chambers did not have the chance to correct these things later since he died at an early age (i.e. at the age of 43 years only) and it is recorded that it was his wife who jotted down his speeches. So, I do hope you did not get me wrong here! I still read Oswald Chambers and appreciate him. Actually, I only wanted to share these thoughts with you which have been on my mind for many years now. Today I think we should not be easily offended through one another’s imperfections that lead us to say or write things that did not spring from the Spirit of God but from our old nature’s unresolved issues. Please, keep bearing with me, too, dear reader! 🙂
I just had an additional thought about the Scripture on which Oswald Chambers expounded here. This idea might sound a bit simple to some, but I dare to share it in the form of a prayer, though.
“May we never forget that it is the Lord alone who is able to draw people to Himself; it is never about us, whatever we might think we do for Him or what we say. May we enable Him to always act through us as He sees fit. Amen.”