14 Jul From the National Commander
Whilst Tracey and I are on furlough over coming weeks I would like to keep the Australia One conversation flowing by taking the opportunity to introduce some of our new National Cabinet Secretaries as guest bloggers on the ‘From the National Commander’ blog. It is my great pleasure for this week’s blog to welcome Major Lyn Edge, who is soon to be our National Cabinet Secretary, taking the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd.
When I was younger I remember wearing my Salvation Army uniform in public and being thanked for what I was doing to help people in need. It was an awkward moment. I knew the Salvation Army was helping people, but me personally? Not so much. It appears I was not alone. The NCLS (National church life survey) undertaken about ten years ago in the Eastern Territory found that one of our weakest points was ‘service’. That meant that the average attendee at The Salvation Army’s Sunday meeting was not personally involved in service to others and helping the needy. The organisation was caring for people, but the salvationist? Not so much.
Jesus was once asked to sum up the law, to give a summary statement of what was required to follow God faithfully. In his response Jesus said “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38). He was asked for one command, one statement of all teaching of the book of law but he gave two; he couldn’t separate these two ideas. Love the Lord God. Have faith, receive and demonstrate grace, pray, read the bible. AND. Love others. The ones you find hard, the ones who’ve been left behind, the oppressed, the poor, the ones others ignore.
Some years ago I heard reverend Tim Costello say that he spent the first part of his life like the smart young lawyer in the book of Luke, concentrating only on the first half of Jesus’ answer. Loving God, evangelising so that people would get into heaven, praying and studying the bible. Then when he was at Uni he was confronted with the second part of Jesus response which was that love for God is really equally yoked to love one’s neighbour, the people that others pass by, the people others find hard to love, those who are forgotten and overlooked. (Luke 10:25-37)
Love for God and love for those in need are integrated ideas. They are connected as we express holistic mission in the world.
I think the early Salvationists understood this ‘marriage’. They expressed a “Soup, Soap and Salvation” approach to their faith. John Gowans summed it up some years later with the maxim “Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity.” Our national mission statement says it with four elements, all of which are part of the expression of our faith; sharing the love of Jesus by caring for people, creating faith pathways, growing healthy communities and working for justice.
The bible challenges a narrow or dualistic faith, where the spiritual and the physical are disconnected. Biblical salvation is broad and encompasses all dimensions of life and faith.
It is a salvation where communities, individuals, relationships and the planet itself might flourish. And the Salvation Army has a part to play in bringing about that broad, boundless salvation.
Just as I was not alone in having outsourced my care for others, it seems I am also not alone in changing that and getting involved in serving those in need. The most recent results from this year’s NCLS are just in, and they paint an encouraging picture in terms of Salvationist’s involvement in acts of service. Together, as The Salvation Army in Australia, we are responding to both dimensions of Jesus call; love God and love others. All of us doing both, no one outsourcing one part of Jesus command to another part of our movement.
I look forward to sharing with you as together we partner with God for his boundless salvation and his kingdom come in our time and place.