By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you — I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
– 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
“Determinedly Discipline Other Things. This is another difficult aspect of the strenuous nature of sainthood. Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “…I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ….” So much Christian work today has never been disciplined, but has simply come into being by impulse! In our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father. There was never the slightest tendency to follow the impulse of His own will as distinct from His Father’s will— “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19). Then compare this with what we do— we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ.”
“Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today, and the saints who are “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity” are criticized and told that they are not determined, and that they lack zeal for God or zeal for the souls of others. But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature. It is inconceivable, but true nevertheless, that saints are not “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity,” but are simply doing work for God that has been instigated by their own human nature, and has not been made spiritual through determined discipline.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Warning: This post is the follow up to yesterday’s post, Demolish Satan’s Strongholds. It should stand alone, but when the tile mentions ‘other things’, it begs the question of what the first things are.
Okay, in a nutshell, we took care of the sin in one’s life, now what could be the ‘other thing’? According to Chambers, the other thing just might be doing ‘good deeds’. I believe that it was Stephen Arterburn in More Jesus, Less Religion who said that possibly our biggest problem with growing in the Christian faith was our ‘goodness’. For one thing, our goodness will never measure up. The point of the remark is that we read the Bible to find the objective checklist of salvation. We latch onto ‘do good works for those less fortunate.’ We go pick up a bum off the street and we buy him a new set of clothes, give him a nice meal, and then kick him back to the curb.
If you were offended by me using the word ‘bum’, I want to say two things. 1) Get over it. And 2) I was illustrating the attitude of the ‘Christian’, or might I not capitalize the word, who thinks that he is assured eternal salvation by doing good deeds. This ‘Christian’ (MS Word gets touchy when you don’t capitalize the word, sorry.) has no relationship with Jesus. He just follows his set of rules by cherry picking verses out of the Bible. He also has no relationship with the bum. Thus, the homeless person is a bum, not a human being who is disenfranchised for one reason or another. When you are a Christian (notice, no quotes), you have a relationship with Jesus and when you go visit the homeless person, you seek a relationship with him too. If it is heartfelt, that relationship is more valuable than the clothing and the meal.
That is what Chambers was talking about. Does the action come from Jesus? Was it what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when he said “… and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”? To a degree, I think so. It might be that Paul referred to our overt sinful actions being demolished, and then our own sinful thoughts must be disciplined. But Chambers took the verse and applied it corporately to the church. That can be dangerous, but in this case, it brings up a great discussion topic.
Who has been in a church that has worked one mission trail or another until everyone is tired of even talking about it? If you have problems getting volunteers, should you not ask if the project was God’s Will or the church’s hair-brained scheme?
I am presently praying about potential flooding in the south side of Pittsburgh. The workers from our church and others are still helping people from the last floods (yes, plural), but we just had three days of steady rain. My wife and I witnessed one bridge that was out, but what of people’s homes? Then, what of the coming hurricane? Will it dump more water onto ground that is already soaked? Or will it miss us altogether?
Why should I ask? Hurricanes cause damage. Churches fill up vans full of people to help those in need. It is what happens. But what of those volunteers who have not had a day off for months and are running out of vacation time, just as the storm hits? Can they go on? Will others come forward?
When I survived a company layoff about 15 years ago, I was given a 20% cut in pay. Everyone got either a 10% or a 20% cut. Either that or more people would be laid off. We had to cut back. We were barely making it before the pay cut. When the preacher asked if the church could help, I bristled. I said, “We’ll manage.” Then the preacher said, “One of the hard lessons for those who constantly help others is to realize it is okay to ask for help for yourself.”
One of those thoughts that needs to be taken captive, and disciplined, is our pride. And that statement fits whether taken for each individual or for the church corporately.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.