“We are sent to war. We are not sent to minister to a congregation and be content if we keep things going. We are sent to make war…and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus” (William Booth)
Dear Salvationists, allow me but a few minutes to ponder and dissect this quote by our Founder:
I understand this quote…I really do.
In some ways it resonates with me.
I know that within our world there is a spiritual war that wages on for the souls of men, women and children.
I also have the understanding that for forces of darkness (Satan, demons, sin & death) are not (nor will they ever be) equal to the force of Light who is God – the Creator and sustainer of all life.
I agree with this quote…and yet I have trouble with it.
I agree that we are to engage in a spiritual war as soldiers – not of just an army formed by men and women from the 1860’s, but as an army called by God. We face opposition almost daily, and even when we wear the uniform (or because of it), we encounter resistance and even contempt. The spiritual war, which is unseen, is real…it is evident. This war has claimed millions of souls, and it will not cease simply by ignoring it.
I agree we are to wage this war.
I agree we fight for more than “good works”.
I agree that this army of salvation is here for more than just Sunday church services.
We are more than just a congregation.
“…We are not sent to minister to a congregation and be content if we keep things going…”
However, I wonder if this type language is insulting to churches around the world today?
I understand the context and time that this was written in. I’m not bashing the Founder, or disagreeing with our mission. I just wonder if these words apply more for the time in which General Booth lived than it does today? There was a certain segregation in the industrial age from the working class, the aristocrats, the poor. Even among the churches, in that era, the marginalized and poor were not being reached. Does this still happen today? Was this about bashing the contemporary church of Booth’s day or about rallying Salvationists into action? I believe it was the latter. I believe William & Catherine intentionally set out to do what needed to be done in their day and their mission and purpose certainly went beyond the perimeters of “Church”.
(Coincidentally, I wrote about this very topic last week entitled “Are we ‘Doing’ Church All Wrong?” and you can read more about that pondering by clicking that hyperlink. )
I wonder if we, as an Army are STILL fully committed to this war?
I wonder if we’ve become lacks in some ways.
Is there still a fire in our hearts?
Are we still willing to wage to the very gates of hell for the lost and hurting?
Sometimes within the Church we (all of Christians) are so horrified when a drunkard walks into our sanctuaries…or someone who smells…or someone who is a criminal…or someone of ill-repute…yet, isn’t that what we the “Church” should be all about? It should never be about the disruption and the order of our services…after all, I believe even the Holy Spirit disrupts our services from time to time because He has something to share that our “order of service” didn’t squeeze in.
We are pretty good at dressing up our buildings. We make them look inviting. We spending millions of dollars on new edifices with beautiful plaques of dedication on them…but these places are still only buildings. They ought to invite everyone in. They ought to serve the purpose of saving souls…but that shouldn’t be all that we are..all that we do. We should never be static and firmly planted in just our buildings…we should be an Army on the move – working in our communities…going to the poor, the lost, the marginalized, those without hope…instead of waiting for them to come to us, which they never will.
“…and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus“
I know, dear Salvationist, that we are Christ’s hands and feet in our world, but does that mean that He needs our help to “subjugate” the world to the sway of Jesus? I know what Booth means here, but I have trouble with the language. I recognize our responsibilities and being Saved to Save, or Saved to Serve, but we also recognize that without the power of the Holy Spirit – nothing is possible. We are without power…and though we might claim certain victories in our own strength, we are never more powerful than when we call upon His presence to guide and to provide.
The world within the “sway” of the Lord – is the Lords work to be done – not ours.
We, in my opinion, are called to obedience, and in that obedience we become pliable to God’s workings and will. It is a power surrogacy or sorts. We stop talking about our war plans, and our building plans, and our fund raising goals, and we listen to God’s battle plan and His redemptive power will surge through us so that the “sway of the world” has, and always will be His to command.
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.…(John 17:15-17)
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!