Then the Spirit of God moved…
In the very beginning, the earth was without form and void…it was chaos! Then the Spirit of God moved and order was created.
In the beginning (not the very beginning, but the beginning of the church) it was chaos! Then the Spirit of God moved at Pentecost and order was created which resulted in dramatic growth of the church.
In the beginning (not the very beginning, nor even the beginning of the church, but the beginning of The Salvation Army) it was chaos! Think about it. No two uniforms the same. No two corps the same. Not even two bands the same since early day Salvationists were encouraged to play on anything that would make music for the Lord. Yes, it was chaos! Then the Spirit of God moved and order emerged.
Now, as we look around us at what is happening in many parts of the Army in the Western world, we see what seems to be a return to the chaos of those early days. To many this may seem frightening and the gut response is one of control…to try to keep things as they are, to avoid any deviation, to prevent evolution. Yet that, surely, is impossible. It has always been the nature of living things to evolve and improve over successive generations.
(If you doubt me, next time you go to Shakespeare’s home in Stratford upon Avon in the UK, look at the height of the doors. Look at the length of the beds and the size of suits of armor. The people of those days were much smaller than today where–it seems–the kids of every new generation are taller and stronger than their parents. Not the same in every respect but, by and large, stronger and healthier).
The church of Booth’s day had become a crystallized, inflexible institution. Then along came Booth working on the “fringe” of Christendom, pioneering new ways of reaching the unsaved of his day. It was chaos!…far from the comfort levels of the moribund church of his day. A time of risk-taking, going out in faith, trusting in the Spirit of God to once again bring order out of the chaos. He did.
I saw a documentary recently about turtles in the Galapagos Islands which, over years, have adapted in order to survive in very hostile surroundings. Isn’t that what living things constantly do, self-adapt in order to survive?
Certainly, in many parts of the Western world of The Salvation Army, we see this spontaneous self-adaptation taking place. It is influencing styles of ministry, styles of dress, styles of music, styles of evangelism. For those with eyes to see it is remarkably similar to the spontaneous self-adaptation that took place when the Army was first formed.
It challenges us to re-examine what really is “Army” and what is not. This goes far beyond methods and trapping of an era, to the spirit and calling of God into unique and specific ministry. When we fulfill the mission for which we were uniquely raised, are we not “Army”?
Once again we are seeing pioneers…frontiersmen…trailblazers! What does such a descriptor imply…going out into places no one has ever trodden before, trying new things, taking risks, pushing back the frontiers of present knowledge…?
Is that Boothian or what?
In the beginning (in every new beginning) there is chaos. It was always so. Then the Spirit of God moves…Let him!