Soldiers of our God arise!
Soldiers of our God, arise! The day is drawing nearer; shake the slumber from your eyes, the light is growing clearer. Sit no longer idly by, while the heedless millions die. Lift the blood-stained banner high and take the field for Jesus.
These words from The Salvation Army song book inspire and ignite within me a passion for this Army of salvation. They speak of our purpose, our mandate and declare the very essence of who we are. Soldiers: fighting to win the world for Jesus.Yet there are whispers within the ranks that say, ‘The Salvation Army has abandoned its post and failed in fulfilling its mission’, ‘It’s stuck in the past’, or ‘the movement is stagnant and without vision’. These whispers distract us from the fight, and they need to stop. We will not quit out of frustration but will fight harder, with greater endurance and stronger determination, because while our tactics may change, our mission remains.
The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth during a dark time where poverty, injustice, corruption and disease infiltrated the streets of the east end of London. The Salvation Army was established to challenge and fight against social injustices and see people rescued into the kingdom of Jesus. This zealous Army spread rapidly, and our history is marked with stories of courage, innovation and salvations won. We must learn from our past, engage in the present and step into the future.
Not that much has changed. Ours is still a dark world in need of light: the light, life and love of Jesus! People are still drowning in an ocean of sin, broken and hurting, desperate for something more.
The chief coroner announced last month that in the past year, 541 lives were lost to suicide. Connection through social media seems to trump true community, but the reality is that people are lonelier than ever. Depression is rampant. People are marginalised on account of their age, gender, disability, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Thousands of children live in poverty. Addictions to alcohol, pornography, gambling and even work oppress. Corruption is rife and injustice extensive.
Today, The Salvation Army is made up of soldiers who are dedicated, disciplined and determined disciples of Jesus. They are cleansed because of Christ’s sacrificial blood and equipped, empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit’s fire. They aren’t afraid to stand up in defence of the marginalised; they love their neighbours and seek to imitate the example of Christ.
They are courageous, bold and innovative; willing to put reputations on the line to challenge injustice and corruption. They rise above the standards set by society and set their sights on a higher purpose. These soldiers fight with endurance to bring hope and purpose to a deteriorating world. Not as individuals, but as units who thrive within and strive for community. Much of their fighting is done on their knees in persevering prayer, and the sword they possess is the Word of God, which they know well and are deeply committed to. They are zealous, undaunted, fearless, unswerving and unstoppable as they storm the forts of darkness.
In this Army we find belonging, we find purpose, we take up arms and fight to see people freed from oppression, injustice conquered, and souls saved into the Kingdom of Heaven. Hallelujah!
In this Salvation Army there is a place for you, irrespective of your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your past, your fears or your failings. This is an Army fuelled with passion, filled with purpose and fighting to prevail over darkness.
So … Soldiers of our God arise! Forward march with Blood and Fire and win the world for Jesus!
By Lieutenant Sammy Millar