I was having a conversation with a person the other day about what I do (I’m a pastor/officer with The Salvation Army). In the midst of our conversation she told me that recently The Salvation Army was featured on a trivia show. They were the answer to this question: What is the only Army in the world that has never fought a battle. This revelation kind of caught me off guard. Of course I understood the connotation – a physical battle, but I thought to myself in a very real, practical/spiritual sense how wrong they truly were. The Salvation Army was formed for just the purpose of engaging an enemy that has ravaged this wretched world since the fall of Adam and Eve. We are at War!! The public may not know this, but we are engaged in the front lines of spiritual warfare every day. Sometimes I fear perhaps even some of our Soldiers and (dare I say) Officers don’t know this.
We must continue to be an Army that is engaged in this battle daily! Do falter or to fall is not an option! Ephesians 6:12 says this: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.“
There is a very real spiritual adversary that holds many sinners captive still today. Many people are bound by all kinds of addictions, perversions and entanglements that they cannot break. Who can save them? We alone certainly do not possess the strength, nor the power to free them, but girded with the full armor of God, this Army of Salvation can still be vital and effective! We never stand alone in the midst of the fray, we carry the banner of Christ with us and the Holy Spirit is our ammunition and power!
So how must we begin? We begin on our knees in penitence before the Almighty! We seek His power, His guidance, and His direction. Only when we have been thoroughly equipped through our conversations with the Father can we then get up and fight on. Without these necessary daily, even moment by moment conversations with the Father we will not continue to stand against the father of lies.
Dear fellow Christ-followers and Soldiers of the Army, we cannot simply wear the uniform and pretend to be engaged, we must actively fight for the salvation of other lost souls in our communities and even in our own homes! Without active soldiers and officers who are willing to fight and willing to boldly stand up, this cause will surely falter and fail. We don’t need casual partakers or bench warmers, but we need active participants who will stand in the gap for the hurting, the tired, the poor, the wretched and the lost! This battle for the lost is not over! It certainly did not end when our Founders were promoted to glory, nor will it end when we grow old and one day meet Jesus face to face! But in the here and now, in our small corners of the world, there is still a battle cry to be heard! There is still a fight to be waged! There is still lost souls to be saved! Who will go? Who will serve? Who will fight on and answer the cries of the broken and the shattered? May we all hear the cries, but more importantly, may we all hear God’s calling for us to take our stands and to reach out a helping hand to poor souls still drowning in the depths of sin.
I’m reminded of this Battle Song:
#718 in the Red Song Book –
Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace
Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.
Cast care aside, lean on thy guide
Cast care aside, lean on thy guide,
His boundless mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is thy life, and Christ thy love.
Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near
Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.
John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-75)