February 5, 2014

Spiritual Disciplines: The Good News is for Sharing!

Today we'll take a break from looking at specific Spiritual Disciplines to consider what the purpose and role of the disciplines should be in the Christian's life.  My dad sent me this devotional from My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Cambers, on January 31.
"Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God. The one all-important thing is that the gospel of God should be recognized as the abiding reality. Reality is not human goodness, or holiness, or heaven, or hell— it is redemption. The need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian worker today. As workers, we have to get used to the revelation that redemption is the only reality. Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it. If we place our faith in human goodness we will go under when testing comes. 
Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me . . .” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3)."
Chambers raises an important point for us in the middle of this study.  What are we doing when we pursue holiness?  Are we trying to please man (others or our self) or God?

I don't think that Cambers would say, "Don't pray, fast, or study and meditate on Scripture."  He did all those things and wrote a famous devotional!  So what's he getting at?  He's highlighting the very important truth that the story of Scripture and the purpose of God is Redemption.  If we start to focus on holiness as the end, we are lost in ourselves indeed.  Keeping our eyes on the blessed, glorious, amazing redemption of God, enables us to embrace the Spiritual Disciplines and enjoy getting to know God and the Gospel more fully.

Chambers's comments about proclaiming the gospel of God also highlight that it's not enough to know that Redemption is what mankind needs.  We need to open our lips to declare truth that souls may be brought to Christ.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”    Romans 10:14-15

Some are called to minister as pastors and missionaries in specific places.  All Christians are called to proclaim the gospel of God in their spheres, no matter how ordinary.  The Spiritual Disciplines are a place of equipment and "sending out."   Time spent getting to know more about our mighty God through His Word and talking with Him in prayer change us, challenge us, and embolden us.  The Disciplines serve as continual reminders of the beauty of Redemption.  We are so dependent on God: Father, Son, and Spirit!

I have been thinking about how to illustrate that we need to keep our feet firmly planted in what Paul called "of first importance": that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  And, at the same time, we need to keep running toward the prize, letting go of what is behind and looking forward to what is ahead.  The best I can come up with is the phrase STOP MOTION.  We're stopped at the foot of the cross AND we're moving toward heaven with gusto.

Chambers rightly reminds us of the call to bring along some friends!

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Thanks to my dad for sharing Cambers's words.  Thanks be to God that He showed is love among us by sending His one and only Son that we might live through Him!

PS  At one point while I wrote this, Fernando Ortega was singing me This is My Father's World.  Thanks, Pandora!  :)

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