Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dissecting Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers was a Scottish theologian who lived a century ago. Today, I had my sophomores read the following excerpt from Chambers' best known work, My Utmost For His Highest:

"The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard- we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts."
I had my students give their opinions on Chambers' contention that we should not seek justice for ourselves, based on his interpretation of Jesus' teachings. Here is a sampling of their thoughts:

"We should not look for justice for ourselves because we will never find it. The world has no justice that is truly just and complaining about it is a waste of time. The only way to have justice is to give it to others; not punishment but grace. Justice should be left up to God because we are selfish and abuse it."

"I don't agree with Chambers. There is a difference between standing up for ourselves and asking for respect versus complaining. If someone is physically hurting me, do I not have the right to stand up and demand that I be treated fairly? I don't believe that being treated justly takes our eyes or our focus off Jesus because as Christians. we are taught to treat others as we want to be treated. Asking for respect does not mean I am complaining."

"Some may argue that justice is what makes a great hero but I say endurance makes an even greater hero. Justice can almost be placed identically with revenge and seeking revenge only causes an endless back and forth bickering between two people until one of them acts. On the other hand, enduring suffering allows you to reflect without wanting to hurt someone immediately. Endurance is very different from keeping your feelings bottled up inside. We then seek to prevent our sufferings because we learn from them and thus we can do what God and Jesus expect us to do: prevent it from happening to someone else because we know how it feels."

"I believe he is right because when we complain, we just worry about ourselves. We lose sight of our goals and our attention belongs to something other than God. I think the Lord will always protect and deliver us from unjust circumstances and we should not try to solve the problem ourselves. We should always make sure others are treated justly but we should not complain- God will take care of everything. We should lean on God for protection and understanding."

"I completely disagree with this man's belief. He is not being fair to human life. A natural reaction would be to respond to a person's wrongdoing towards them. I understand the entire live as Jesus did thing but I would stand up for myself or someone else being mistreated. People that don't defend themselves will end up being walked on whereas someone who looks after their neighbor and them self will be seen as someone who can stand up for what is right."

Applicable quote of the day:
"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
Oswald Chambers

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

pop said...


Do you suppose the comments disagreeing with Chambers are from people who have experienced injustice first hand? His comments sound so good in theory, but absorbing a few blows (or seeing someone you love absorb them) puts a new light on the subject.

Balance is the key.