The spice box- Christ’s mandate: cross every border
Sharon Robertson. Lt. Colonel
Part two: Tough questions, tough answers
In one of the most powerful messages in Scripture we are reminded of how Jesus demanded the seemingly impossible of his followers:
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-31).
We have to ask ourselves some hard questions—ask them with honesty and answer them with the same blunt, non-defensive honesty that will be required of us when we stand before the Christ who will be our judge.
Tough questions—tougher answers
1. Are the demands of Christ reasonable? No, probably not. Jesus asks for an unnatural response that defies reason and imposes an expectation totally at odds with our natural impulses. He asks us to practice love in an environment of festering hatred, without expecting anything in return. It doesn’t make sense to love one who is desperately seeking to do harm, or to pray for one who is making it difficult for you to find work.
2. Who is the mission target? Or to put it another way, who is it that Christ would choose to exclude from his kingdom? When we phrase the question that way, the answer is obvious. Christ would choose to exclude no one—so the object of our quest is everyone—every friend, every foe—every person who does not know Jesus Christ as personal savior is fair game!
3. Is it possible for the Army’s mission to succeed in today’s increasingly antagonistic world climate?
That depends on a number of things:
a. Our willingness to look beyond our own interests: It depends on whether or not we are able to break down the barriers of parochialism, to recognize that today the world is our community. No longer can we afford to “defend our local turf” and turn our backs on the needs of the world beyond our borders. Today as never before, what happens in Pakistan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Chechnya, Brazil, Japan and Saudi Arabia happens to us—and due to the Internet, it happens with an immediacy of impact that 20 years ago we could not have believed.
b. Our belief in the viability of the mission: It depends on whether or not we honestly view the three-fold mission of The Salvation Army, here and abroad, as vital, compelling and realistic. Do we have that gut-level, jaw-tightening drive that sees the propagation of the gospel of Christ as the single most important issue in the world today and is ready to go beyond the call of “duty” to see it happen? What are we willing to give up—sacrifice, if you will—to carry out the commands of the Master to preach the gospel and to love the unlovable—for God’s sake, to learn to actually love even those who set themselves up as the enemy and are ready to perpetrate any atrocity if it will advance their cause?
c. Our readiness to put God to the test: In a very real way, success depends (more than anything else) upon our willingness to put the power of God to the test. How much can we trust God for the resources it will take, not simply to sustain our mission here and abroad, but to extend it aggressively, to launch out in faith to prosecute the claims of Christ to a world of people whose needs have driven them to hatred and violence against a way of life we hold dear? Are we prepared to work in a partnership with God that would be costly in terms of time, effort, money—even personal safety and welfare—if that is what God asks? The only way we will ever prove our contention that the power of God is a reality in our lives is to take him at his word, to translate our professed faith into effective, positive action!
The mission of The Salvation Army cannot be pursued from a comfortable pew; nor will it be achieved through a handful of change in the offering plate and an occasional fervent prayer from the pulpit on World Services Sunday. We live in world where men and women, boys and girls, count it a privilege to die for their beliefs—but they are giving their lives in opposition to the gospel, not to promote it. At the same time we Christians are allowing the true enemy, the enemy of our souls, to seduce us into subjecting ourselves to an environment of fear and unbelief, due to a debilitating lack of confidence in him whom we would claim as Lord and Savior. That cannot be!
Our Commander in Chief has given an order: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20).
Yes, Sir! Let’s do it!