I ask you this question within this pondering today because it truly matters how you answer the question. There are good reasons to be a soldier, and there are not-so-good reasons to be a soldier.
The ‘Not-So’ List:
1) I want to be a soldier because my whole family is a soldier…
this may be the most common of answers. The answer itself isn’t necessarily bad or wrong, but if this becomes the sole reason you are a soldier, then you have missed the point of soldiership. In the same way that no one will get into heaven on the merits of others, so it is with soldiership. A good soldier is one who understands the mission and is prepared to be holy and then to live out holiness everyday. Familiar bonds are wonderful, yet they are not a sufficient motive for soldiership.
2) I want to be a soldier because I look good in dark blue…(comforts)
Probably not a common excuse, but none-the-less it still address the physical aspects of soldiership. If we choose to become a soldier because of the opportunities and comforts it affords us – we will have joined for the wrong purposes and motivations. I am not saying that one can’t change, but if this motive remains constant throughout soldiership, then it will always be about dependancy on the organization and movement than it will ever about being a useful part of movement in the first place. We don’t wish to become soldiers because of the comforts it affords.
Why do you want to be a soldier?
If the answer is that you long to be used by God for His holy purpose, and that you care about suffering humanity – then you are in the right place! Our hearts and purpose for being soldiers has to line up with the mission of this army.
what is that mission you ask?
“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
What vision should we, as Salvationists share?
I think this still applies – don’t you?
ONE ARMY: We see a God-raised, Spirit-filled Army for the 21st century – convinced of our calling, moving forward together
- deepen our spiritual life
- unite in prayer
- identify and develop leaders
- increase self-support and self-denial
ONE MISSION: Into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means
- emphasise our integrated ministry
- reach and involve youth and children
- stand for and serve the marginalised
- encourage innovation in mission
ONE MESSAGE: With the transforming message of Jesus, bringing freedom, hope and life
- communicate Christ unashamedly
- reaffirm our belief in transformation
- evangelise and disciple effectively
- provide quality teaching resources
if you join these ranks as soldiers for any other purpose than to be servants of God and servants of man, then we have joined for all the wrong reasons. The uniform, and all it represents, is a symbolic representation of a sacrificial life. We are taking a stand against sin and death in this world. We are standing with the marginalized. We are pushing to end human slavery in our world. We are striving to end the blight of human trafficking. We are fighting for the homeless, the destitute the helpless, the hurting, the lost. When we put on our uniforms and say we are soldiers, we are saying that our identities are no longer individual, but we are united with Christ to bring His love into some very loveless places of our world. When we say we are soldiers, it means we are saved to serve, and we are saved to save.
It’s more than just a uniform.
It’s more than just a covenant or a soldiership enrollment paper that we sign.
This mission, this movement – we become the very hands of feet of Christ if we do it properly. Improperly, we join the throngs of clanging noise of the world that leave little impact and change on humanity. The choice – this choice to be a soldier of Christ is ours to make.
So…what will it be?
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!
Disclaimer: “The opinions and thoughts expressed here on Pastorsponderings do not necessarily always reflect the opinions and thoughts of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.“