Again, this is a topic that has been repeatedly accented on this blog over its however many years now. We realise that the bottom line is that its either Jesus or hell…salvation is in him alone. We don’t hide that, we declare in in out doctrine and everything about us. You may or may not have heard the prophecy given by Catherine Booth along the lines that she believed that The Army would be highly significant in winning the world for Jesus, in facilitating the ‘big push’ for world evangelisation and actually, at 118 countries invaded so far, we’re not doing too badly!
But we don’t just rest on the call of the Booths or the Railtons or even the Cliftons or Gowanses for they are simply emphasising the words of Jesus himself who called us to go into all nations and to make disciples of them. Preaching the Kingdom, demonstrating the Kingdom.
Is it possible? Well, everything is possible with God. However, doubt has crept in about our purpose as an Army. It is interesting that when we talked up winning the world for Jesus, people were actually bold enough to have a go! We were zealous for the Lord in this, absolutely. We know the task remains the same, so whats changed?
a) the task? – nah, the great commission still calls us.
b) culture? – we know the world has changed, church has changed, people’s views of Christianity have changed. However, this is inevitable. Culture is always changing. What often doesn’t change is our mindset or our methods. Commissioner Joe Noland has a little formula:
attack + adapt + attract = some (I Cor 9:22)
The key I want to bring out is adapt. We were very adaptive in our early days, we took leafs from anyones book and had a jolly good go…seeking to grab the attention of our culture. We must do the same today. The message is the same, the method, howver, will be creative as always. Have we lost our creative spark? Have we lost our innovation as a movement? Nah….its there, lets just unearth it!
c) the Army? – its my long held and annoyingly vocal opinion (to some) that the Army has been guilty in some quarters of losing its focus as a permanant mission to the unconverted. We’ve drifted into thinking we’re a church, which is a grave error. Sure, we are the church (the church is the people/body of Jesus, yes?), but we are a mission. Our soldiers are missioners. But its not terminology thats the problem, lets not fall into that one. The problem is where we set our eyes!
If you set your eyes inwards, you become a people obsessed with the ‘inwards’ of the organisation. You become too focussed on yourself, trapped in unhealthy introspection at the cost of all else. Our frame of reference is how to survive and how to keep us all happy.
If we set our eyes outwards, we become obsessed with reaching the last, the lost and the least and transformation happens in the life of people. It also shapes us because we’ve looked at the call of Jesus, applied it as the priority for our existance.
With a nod to Steve Chalke, we must be careful to let our vision of Jesus and his mission to shape our mission so that we can best win the lost by all means possible. It is that vision of Jesus and mission that then shapes our ecclesiology (how we organise ourselves and what we think we are). We get it the wrong way…we let how we see ourselves as Army shape our mission, which then affects what we say and how we present Jesus. Lets turn that on its head.
The chart flows like this:
Vision of Jesus and his call to us -> How we do mission -> Shape of Church
How we do ‘church’ -> how we do mission -> what we say about Jesus
Is the world not too big? No….not if you start where you are. You see, if we all do that, we’ll have the world won by Tuesday (which even gives time for training and equipping!)
Here is a definition of salvationism you may or may not have come across: “The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.” Chew on that.
I believe that the world mus be won, that we must lift our eyes up from ourselves and look to the harvest field which is ripe and awaiting labourers. Get yer boots on.