On the Corner

by Robert Docter – 

Why should there be a Salvation Army?

Some negativists believe it should simply slip quietly into the grave–that it has lost its usefulness. What most of them fail to realize is that they are simply projecting their negative perceptions of themselves on their own local representation of the Army. It’s painful to have to look at one’s self. Pushing blame on others somehow temporarily allows these negativists to duck the responsibility of dealing with those matters they really don’t like about themselves. The “blamers” internal talk says: “I am worthless.”

It is, however, an interesting question–why should there be a Salvation Army?

The International Millennial Congress answered that question for me.

Somehow, somebody needs to show the world there can be unity in diversity. This old globe is shrinking fast. Our world is increasingly multi-cultural. All of us are confronted by members of other races, other cultures, other practices on a daily basis.

Sadly, on the whole, people don’t do well in dealing with difference. I discovered this first hand as an elected member of a metropolitan school board required by the Supreme Court to end racial segregation and integrate the schools of Los Angeles.

Hard. I even got dis-elected in the process. It happened the same year our nation celebrated the idea of “liberty and justice for all”–our 200th birthday.

The International Congress revealed to any and all the reality of an Army of amazing cultural diversity united behind a common commitment to Christ and a common mission to love others in his name. That’s our strength. There must continue to be a Salvation Army to show the world that people from diverse cultures and races can be united. People who share a common commitment and a common mission might seem different, but their behavior is really very much alike.

Of course, most of us have this major need to find some kind of difference in just about anybody. Even people whose families have lived in close proximity and have attended the same church for generations find things to fight about.

Stand for prayer–kneel for prayer.

Stand for the Scripture reading– remain seated.

Use only the old King James translation–explore some newer versions.

Raise your hands when you sing–both of them — neither of them.

Only use the Army songbook–never use the Army songbook.

Never let a guitar or any kind of instrument in the corps that isn’t brass.

And then, of course, if people won’t do it your way–the “right” way–quit.

“Can’t we just get along?”

Probably not!

Nobody “just gets along.” It’s something you have to work at. Differences exist. Humans have the responsibility to maintain communication in the face of difference. Talk it through. Understand each other. Share feelings openly and honestly. Never stop communicating.

Notice–I said “communicating.”

When we send messages to others, we first of all must make sure we have understood what the other person has said to us. We do this by paraphrasing what we believe we heard them say. It’s a checkout. Second, we respond by accepting their feeling, sharing our feeling, and expressing our thoughts on the subject. Third, we listen to what they are saying back to us and begin the paraphrase process of step one.

Division in a church is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When one believes there is division, he begins to act as if it is true. That behavior is interpreted by those around him–often leading to conclusions that he wants to isolate. So they let him. This makes him feel rejected and actualizes his prophecy of division.

If we will keep a focus on our goals ­ common commitment to Christ and common mission to love others in his name –we will find unity in diversity.

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