Tuesday, March 2, 2021

How long will it be, Salvation Army?

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Are we there yet? The children cry out. How long before we get there? We don’t know the answer. The journey is long and precarious, and full of winding twists and turns. We experience great highs and find ourselves lamenting at the struggles. We yearn for better days ahead. We know they are coming. We see glimpses of them. We can taste and smell revival, in the distance, but it’s just seems to be out of reach.

How long will it be Salvation Army? How long before we see a great move of God? How long before we witness the fullness of the transformative work of the gospel of Jesus Christ across our land?    

The question of “how long” is not a new question. When Jesus comes down the mountain (with Peter, James and John) still shining radiantly after being in the presence of Almighty God, he connects again with the other disciples. The teachers of the law and the disciples were arguing. The reason they were at verbal loggerheads was because there was a boy who was oppressed by a demonic spirit and no one knew how to help. Let’s pick up the story in Mark 9:16-19:

“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Jesus is indignant. And when we consider previous chapters in Mark’s gospel, where the disciples couldn’t understand the miracles of Jesus, we assume Jesus is a little frustrated towards the disciples. How long will it take before you understand, that you have all it takes within you to help bring freedom to this boy? But instead, you’re arguing. You’re complaining. You’re caught up in theological pontification.

Forgive me friends, but as I read this recently, my mind went to this beloved movement of which I am a part. I was convicted as I considered The Salvation Army, and my role within it.

How long will I argue about meaningless mind-numbing aspects of Salvation Army life, while I forget about the big picture of God’s kingdom?

How long will I moan and groan about change while the train to transformation is leaving the station?

How long will it be before I value unity over uniformity?

How long will it be before I value relationships over regulation?

How long will it be before I value salvation over stagnation?     

There is hope

The story is not finished in Mark’s gospel. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. As Jesus heals the boy from the oppressive spirit the following conversation is happening in Mark 9:22b-24:

But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

There’s a similar statement recorded in Matthew’s Gospel in relation to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:26 – With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible).

Everything is possible for one who believes; Jesus is telling the father of the sick boy. While the disciples and the teachers of the law are going around in circles debating theological ideas, Jesus is bringing freedom to this boy. And he’s showing the disciples, that anything is possible if you believe.

So I bring my mind back to The Salvation Army. I know that God is challenging me. While I may debate ideas and may question, “HOW LONG?!” I know something deeper.

Jesus is speaking and saying: Everything is possible to the one who believes.

I hear little whispers from Jesus:

Can I turn The Salvation Army into a dynamic missional movement once again? Yes, I can!

Can I heal the hurts and pain of the years gone by? Yes, I can!

Can I do a new thing, that sees The Salvation Army move from surviving to thriving? Yes, I can!

With man or woman this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.

You and I may wrestle at times with unbelief regarding what we think God may do in future days, but we can be certain of the promise: Everything is possible for the one who believes.

We’re not there yet. We all know that. But friends… revival is coming. God can do greater things. Get ready for it as you pray and believe that Jesus is still at work amongst us.

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