On the Lost

I’ve had a major ‘memory-lane’ week this week. Been hearing from a lot of friends from school…some very good friends and feeling a bit sad that we haven’t kept in touch. People all married and getting married and stuff and I haven’t been around. This is part of being an officer – you move, you lose touch, things change, things happen. This week, as well as weddings and babies, I’ve heard about deaths and cancers and worries. I’ve heard doubts and fears, discerned insecurities, people who have become trapped in lives they are not sure of…but I’ve heard of great hope, perseverance, and a lot of happiness.

This week, I also was talking to another Christian worker in this community. I was explaining to her how alien the ‘church’ culture in England is to me. I also explained to her that I don’t really want to understand and appreciate where these people are coming from, because the more I do, the more I get detached from what life is like for those outside the church. I am a firm believer in the idea that The Salvation Army was designed to be a permanent mission to the lost.

I love The Salvation Army…uniform, music, flags, bands, covenants, soldiership, officership, citadels, corps, ranks, invasions, raids, brigades, salvation wars and all that…it really inspires me to break out of the inadequate, insecure, petrified person that is really me and to stand firm on Jesus Christ as a soldier of his. I put on my uniform and I’m part of something special God dreamed up to confound the wise.

I can’t stand, however, soldiers who live only to create civil war, to worry about the themselves more than others, to preserve their precious corps at the expense of the lost, and to live as if there was no war to fight at all. There is a little bit of this in everywhere perhaps, its not just to be found in the Bristol area. I just don’t get these things. They are lost on me. All I want to be is to be a part of the Army that ‘does what it says on the tin.’

We’ve had a gentleman move into our community recently, who is quite possibly the poorest person this community has seen for years. Thankfully, he has come to us. I look at him, his home, his ‘lot’, his lifestyle and I see a man who needs rescuing from himself, his habits, his sin, his consequences and his future! I remind myself that Jesus dreamed us up for men such as him. Serving him today has been sacramental.

We have to re-assess our priorities folks…the world still needs us!

4 thoughts on “On the Lost

  1. I think that the root of the problem is that the Church in the West has treated the Gospel as a commodity to be sold to people. The product on offer is personal salvation and once you have it you are part of this exclusive club. This makes our faith about individual gain rather than transformational power.The reality though is that Jesus calls us to something totally different. Yes, personal salvation is the core part of it, but the personal salvation we see in the Bible is not simply about getting into heaven. There is a duty that goes with it!I read somewhere recently that Jesus did not call people to worship him, but to follow him. Whilst he accepts our worship, although I suspect not as much as some think, what he actually wants is followers who will seek to copy his life. This life was not simply about individual salvation but was also about transforming society.

  2. I hear what you say Graeme and I agree. We just seem to have lost that sense of ‘every soldier a missionary.’ Not just in the case of sharing faith, but serving the poor too. We leave all these things to the ever increasing ranks of ‘professionals’ amongst us.On our front, however, I’m not so sure that your first paragraph is entirely true….all we have here is people who, sometimes, just cannot or will not relate to those who are unsaved. Part of that is because we have an episcopal mindset! They see their officers as vicars, DCs as bishops, TCs as Archbishops and Generals as Popes. We’ve made out military structure into an episcopacy, professional clergy with a separation of clergy and laity, instead of a militant band of soldiers fighting together under a soldier commissioned to lead!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly about the fact that we have made our structure into an episcopacy!As for those who cannot or just will not relate to the unlost, well that is part of what I call social club Army. Over the years so much of our activity has become slowly but surely centred around our buildings, either to practice what we do in our buildings or simply to create things for the public to do in our buildings. This has created an environment where getting people in is the key. But now on the whole we fail miserably at that, which means that what goes on inside is about those of us who are already there.After generations of this we now have created a nice little social club Army whose members practice religion and who come together and find it difficult to talk to their non-Army acquaintances about why they do it. In fact it could almost be classed as a model-railway club Army, because in fact many of our soldiers are faintly embarrassed by belonging to the Army too!

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