Friday, November 16, 2018

When The Salvation Army Dies...


A decade ago I signed the Officer's Covenant. What a privilege I felt in my heart, to be able to lay down my life to serve others and lead people to Jesus Christ.

That passion is still there. In fact, it is there more than ever.

See, I have such a holy discontent that we are not doing more to support people in need and see lives transformed for Jesus. I long to increase our impact upon society. I long for more people to join the cause. I long for more people to commit themselves to the ideals of the soldier's and officer's covenants.

But then this nagging feeling comes upon me.

I began to reflect one day on what would happen if The Salvation Army died. Let me qualify what I mean by that: I began to wonder what would happen if The Salvation Army lost its focus so much so that it became significantly different to the original movement that I signed up to be a part.

Maybe you have asked that question once or twice. It's not because you or I lack faith or fail to have a view that God raised up The Salvation Army, but because we don't want to see it be less than what God raised it up to be.

Recently I was walking around a large lake at a local park, praying and thinking about that very question.

'What if The Salvation Army died?'

Then I felt some words in my spirit that said:

The Salvation Army does need to die. 
It needs to die to its own image.
It needs to die to its own strategic plans.
It needs to die to its own narcissism. 
The Salvation Army needs to spend less time celebrating the mission it has achieved, and more time celebrating the source of the mission.
The Salvation Army needs to spend less time focused on how good it thinks it is, how good it thinks its forebears were, but rather point to how good it believes God is.

We need to reignite the coals of Jesus-focused, gutsy, Spirit-filled fervour, that is embedded within the very DNA of this movement. We need to re-embrace the Apostles, Evangelists and Prophets across the globe, to join again with the Shepherds and Teachers to work together to establish God's kingdom here and now.

Captain Matt Reeve quoted this recently, 'Movements start because their founder loves Jesus. They die when the movement loves its founder.' There's a tension there. One that I feel and acknowledge. We are thankful to William, Catherine, Bramwell and the team. We love their focus, passion and tenacity to raise up such a movement. We are thankful to Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit that we should be a part of such exciting times.

Though The Salvation Army didn't succeed because General William Booth always spoke about how good John Wesley was.

The Salvation Army didn't succeed because Catherine Booth chose to put Phoebe Palmer up on a pedestal.

Part of why The Salvation Army succeeded was both because Salvationists learned and were inspired by the past, but were driven ultimately by a passion for Jesus Christ.

In John's Gospel, chapter 15, we read that Jesus is the true vine, and that the Father cuts off every branch in us that bears no fruit. Jesus says we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in him, because apart from him, we can do nothing.

I look forward then to the day that The Salvation Army dies.

A day we lay our timbrels at the mercy seat.

A day we lay down our own ambition for that which is even better.

A day we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the cause of Jesus Christ in the world.

This is the day I long for.

This is the day that we will be at our best.

And Praise God that in some places, that day has already arrived.

8 comments:

  1. Exactly.

    “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
    ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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  2. Such profound words of truth.

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  3. It has already died unfortunately and many people left and now worship elsewhere, so sad.

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  4. Worshipping 'elsewhere' isn't sad. They are still a part of the Body of Christ. They are still Kindgom building. What is sad is when people leave the church and leave the Body of Christ.

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  5. Petey! Thankyou for acknowledging this. I've felt for a long time that part of yours and Jo's purpose is ensuring your denominations spirituality stays on track. I know your passionate about the lost but I believe God has a whole other purpose for you too.
    P.S. Selfishly I would love to have you guys at our church for a 2 year secondment! :D

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  6. Excellent thoughts and points to pray about (and act upon).

    While worshipping the Booths or any other human leader is as wrong as worshipping a painted ikon hanging on the wall of a chapel, I think the calling and mission they communicated is still valid. The transformational power of the Holy Spirit must remain at the heart of the Army, or it ceases to be the Army. If we cease to be a Holiness Movement (maybe we have already?); we become little more than a dying Protestant denomination with a secular social services program.

    As we slip towards seeing more and more of an environment where the formerly unthinkable no longer pervokes even a raised eyebrow, maybe the digging of the grave is moving toward completion. Secular social services, "harm reduction", government funding priority, compromise, business class travel, 5 star hotels, "proper neighborhoods" for quarters (don't want to be too close to those people!), endless conferences, donor intent, etc., etc., . . . What about "those people"? GOD'S PEOPLE. The Whosoevers.

    Maybe it is not a problem in your Corps, Division or Territory - Praise God!

    It is a problem in many. I fear the compromise will complete the digging of the grave.

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  7. The Salvatian Army started with a revival fire of holy service to God and His commands. Dead to self alive to God.

    Eternal life is this to know the one true God and Jesus Christ who He sent.

    There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit

    Our love for God should flow as freely for the lost and hurting in as an uncondishional way as it flows from God to us. I'm not in the Salvation Army but as deciples we are all in the same war.

    If I might be so bold as to say we all need to die but you canot crucify yourself! We need to cry out to our Lord to drive home the last nail.

    Keep the fire fanned Peter!

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