“We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(The 10th Doctrine of The Salvation Army)
We are certainly a unique ministry of Jesus Christ are we not?
Those who become members of our ecclesia whether they be adherents, volunteers, soldiers or officers make up many different demographics. Some are educated, some are not, some are young, some are old, some are wealthy, many are not…but they all make up this army of salvation. I do not want to assume anything within our army but from what I have seen there are many of whom we minister to that are “the walking wounded”.
What do I mean by walking wounded?
Circumstances of life whether by extreme poverty, illiteracy, abuse have left wounds upon some of our soldiers in this army. Some of these wounds are emotion, some are physical, some are psychological…all have inflicted wounds, some very, very deep.
Many of the walking wounded may struggle with identifying with a “Heavenly Father” because their earthly father was far from heavenly. Many of the walking wounded struggle with the concept of forgiveness because this was a foreign idea at home. Some of the walking wounded have lived within deep trenches of depravity and habits that seem to always linger in their lives.
It would be easy to become frustrated with those who are walking wounded…sometimes we may not know that they are wounded at all. Many times the wounds and scars are carefully hidden away and are scarcely revealed or acknowledged. As an Officer, I have caught myself uttering words under my breath, words like “Why can’t this person see what they’re doing with their life?” or “I just taught this subject in bible study and five minutes after nothing has changed and nothing has sunken in.”
Be careful, fellow teachers of the gospel. Be patient with those you instruct, some are walking wounded and you may not know it. It is easy to become frustrated with those who seem to make little to no progress. Yes, we should keep the standard high, and at the same time be distributors of God’s grace and loving mercy. I do not wish to imply that we allow sin to remain in the lives of those we serve and love. We should confront sin when we have the opportunity to do so, but may it be done in a loving, caring manner. I believe that the Holy Spirit can certainly transform lives. Sometimes He transforms lives immediately, while other times it is a gradual, slow process. We, who are very temporal, want to see immediate change. We, who are teachers of the gospel, long to see the “fruit of our labor” and yet is that our place? Is that our right? Sometimes the walking wounded may only make incremental progress towards becoming “wholly sanctified”…yet I believe in a God who dispenses such an amazing grace that goes beyond our understanding. Again I do not wish for us to give up or to settle for mediocrity within our soldiery, but sometimes I wonder if certain members of our body are capable of attaining the measure that we as humans set for them?
Love, Grace & Sanctification:
When it comes to ministering to the walking wounded (this definition of “walking wounded” anyway) we as soldiers and officers of our army must love as Christ first loved us. All of us are unworthy of His grace and yet His unmerited favor has fallen upon us. May we in turn make every attempt to reciprocate that grace upon those we serve and love.
They may not attain “our level” of sanctification (and even saying “our level” seems arrogant and pretentious) and thank goodness we are not the measurement of holiness – Christ is! Instead of focusing on “our level” perhaps we can all attempt to instruct and teach personal holiness to those we serve and love. Personal holiness begins at home, in the heart, soul and mind. Personal holiness is prodded by corporate holiness but has the capacity to transform and shape a person’s life in their time and by the Holy Spirit.
We are all called to be “wholly sanctified”…and in so living it may we administer love and grace to those who are walking wounded among us…perhaps, quite possibly, that includes ourselves as well.
-Something more for our army to ponder today.