Its true. Salvos don’t have the monopoly on the gospel. Its bigger than us, huge, massive….salvation is absolutely colossal. The whole of the body of Christ can get stuck in, enveloped, captured, inspire and propelled by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its boundless, unmeasured and freedom giving. Lets not limit it at all.
But let me tell you something today: we have a massive perspective to bring to the wider body of Christ when it comes to the gospel. We live in a world, especially in the West, where we are in the grips of times we’ve never seen before since our lands were filled with those who chase after other gods. For many people Christianity and the church is but a monument of something passed. The world is disengaged with the gospel. But you know what? The church is becoming disengaged with the gospel. It is losing confidence in the person of Jesus Christ.
Its happening in the Army too. What do we Salvos bring to the table in this whole thing?
1. Whosoever will – you know, most of the big name stars in the church today thinks Jesus died for a few that God fancied saving. You’re either in or out from birth and even before birth. Its not difficult to see how to get that from the bible and many people do. But we Salvos don’t get it. We hold to the fact that yes, God is Sovereign and he knows who will eventually accept him, but that its not governed by him, but that the atonement us unlimited, for who whole world! More than that….we think they can all be holy too!
2. The World for God – And because we believe no. 1, we are frantic missioners of the whole world. 127 countries and counting the Army spreads the message of the whosoever. We have a massive international vision. The internet has brought us all closer. I can enjoy daily interaction with brothers and sisters from Australia, Canada, the US, Romania, Russia, France, and even Scotland in the comfort of my own front room and we can scheme together, plan together for the sake of the gospel.
3. Common covenant – Stephen Court rightly identifies that covenant is the thing that will stop fragmentation in the Army. Not, I don’t think, because we want to create a sausage factory. But my experience of late tells me this – it is EXTREMELY difficult to work in mission and discipleship in an environment when no one know exactly what we’re talking about when we say those things. Sure, corps lose their way too – we lose our sense of mission and the radical call to discipleship. But hey, we have a few things written down about what we believe as a benchmark and we can point to it. Not to beat each other up with it, as is what sometimes happenes in corps which focus on the law of the written word instead of the spirit of it, but hey, on the whole we know what we’re on about. That creates focus and when harnessed, should build strong communitas amongst those we mission with. Get it?
4. Gospel for the poor – let me say first of all that in this area, God is already raising up people to ‘steal our crown’ on this one. We’re not so good news for the poor as we always think and let ourselves think. But regarldless of how well we do it, we are a movement who is more interested in the hopeless communities than we are the leafy suburbs. Right? I mean, the poor are our people. We mission not just to them, for them, but we have the theology built into our DNA from the beginning that says we mission with them (assuming that you reading are not poor because you’re reading this on the internet access you have).
Folks, I’m sure if I thought longer, there would be other things but these 4 things strike me as the things that are unique to what we bring. These things bring a very unique shape to the way we follow Jesus. Lets think about these things and see if we can’t live them out in the environments we are in, whether we spend our whole lives at the Army or not.