Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Lesson in Missing the Point

I have never been an admirer of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.  My wife and I tried using it for devotions several years ago, which lasted about one week.  We could not understand the point of many readings.  Since that time, I have noted when someone makes reference to it, and the target posts are mixed in their usefulness.

Just recently in my Facebook feed I noticed a link to one of Chamber’s meditations, so I followed it and discovered the devotion was based on this part of Scripture:
Look at the birds of the air….  Consider the lilies of the field… (Matt 6:26, 28)
Immediately, we should see a problem.  While the segments are valid sentences, the context is missing.  Even Chambers’ opening sentence, while quoting more of the text, fails to give any context whatsoever:
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are!
The devotion goes downhill quickly from here.  In an apparent attempt to wax spiritual (perhaps we should say mystical?), Chambers proceeds along a tangential line unrelated to what Jesus was teaching.  He posits that we have a ministry and service that would be beneficial if we would go about our lives in Christ without trying to be consistent and useful (i.e., get out of our own way by “concentrating on our Father in heaven”).  His central statement is telling:
In essence, Jesus was saying, “Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.”
The main point to this section of Matthew 6 is not worry about usefulness, but worry about worldly goods.  Jesus first tells the crowd in verses 19-24 to not hoard money or be greedy in an effort to give yourself a more secure future.  Then He follows in verses 25-34 with instruction to not be overly concerned about having too little, because the elect are ever in the Father’s care.  Are there spiritual aspects of Jesus’ teaching?  Certainly.  Just as we try to store up treasures on earth for the future, we try to store up teachers and teaching, which can lead to pride and great error.  Conversely, we should not be concerned about a dearth of instruction, because He can and will provide for our spiritual nourishment.

Rather than expounding on the passage in a meaningful way, Chambers demonstrated what can happen we someone tries to over-spiritualize, twist, or misapply Scripture for a preconceived intent.  He is not alone in this.  Since the early days of the Church, so-called Bible teachers and pastors have ridden their hobby-horses rather than deliver sound doctrine.  The people of God must be discerning, but this requires faithful men to teach them rightly.  Pray the Lord raise up such shepherds who will faithfully feed and care for the sheep.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Interesting -- I'm also going to discuss Chambers on my "RAAH" post today. I'll have to link to this also.