To follow Christ
As God’s faithful soldier for His kingdom mission, I affirm, the whole purpose of the Salvationist’s missional self-identify is not only to represent individual lives committed to holiness but also our corporate unity for leading the people into the grace of God through the ministry of The Salvation Army. If it is true, we need urgently acknowledge the basic biblical principle of following of Christ (Christian discipleship) for fulfilling this God-given missional agenda to all God’s children. This is Christ’s primary concern for his followers which we often have tempted to forget or ignore to fulfill while we are busy to accomplish our daily task in the name of God.
The basic biblical principle of Christian discipleship which Christ himself constantly emphasizes to his disciples in the Gospels can be founded on Mark 3:14 and John 15:5. The Bible says in Mark 3:14, “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” As we see, the disciples were called to be with Jesus and to be sent out to preach. The order is significant. First, they were to be with Him; then, they were sent out to preach. We observe the same order when Jesus told His disciples in John 15:5a, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Branches exist to bear fruit; if they don’t they are pruned away. But branches can be fruitful only if they abide in the vine. “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). To abide, then, is the primary, fundamental concern of Jesus’ disciples. Their foremost calling is to abide in Him. Fruitfulness in ministry is secondary. It is merely a consequence of abiding in Christ.
In our everyday life, how often do we find ourselves in the hazards of busyness, yet still losing our spiritual priority, which is to have an intimate relationship with God before we are occupied and preoccupied with the many things in our daily path. It is one of the greatest temptations that we, as Christ’s followers, are easily falling into everyday, isn’t it?
Salvationists know very well that Samuel Logan Brengle is one of the most influential figures and a spiritual giant in the history of The Salvation Army. We call him our “Teacher of Holiness.” Several of his books are still in print today.
When Colonel Lyle Rader, Sr, a legendary prayer warrior among the Salvationists, was a cadet in officers’ training school, Brengle was his friend and mentor.
One day he asked Brengle a question he had wanted to ask for a long time, “Sir, what have been your greatest temptations in ministry?” Brengle thought for a moment, then, he responded, “Actually, I have only one temptation in ministry. If I win the battle with this temptation, everything else in my life and ministry falls into place. But if I lose the battle, I soon find myself confronted with all sorts of other temptations.”
“What temptation is that?” Rader asked. “It’s the temptation to want to do something for God each day, before I’ve first spent time with Him,” Brengle replied.
How about you? Are you safe not to fall into a hall of this temptation in the midst of your daily lives? Eugene Peterson says, “Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.” Also, Robert J. Banks points out that “Spirituality and everyday life have all too often been divorced from one another, and are still too often separated today… (Therefore) the real challenge is (that)… we need to look for ways to develop spiritually in the midst of our daily round, and connect spirituality directly with what we do and are concerned about.”
“Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.” Eugene Peterson
Symbolically speaking, any place where you and I are living and working daily is the place that we spend most of our precious time and energy. Because of that practical reality I would like to encourage, remind or perhaps challenge you that our daily living and working place should be our “vocational and missional place” that God puts us with significant purpose. It is God’s intention for us in that place, and His expectation for us, that we enjoy His goodness and his loving presence. We do that first through fully seeking an intimate and enriched relationship with Him and then through doing the work appointed to us and taking care of God’s kingdom agenda in the places He has established us.
Finally, I would like to heed what Elizabeth O’Connor says in her book Call to Commitment:
“We are not called primarily to create new structures for the church in this age; we are not called primarily to a program of service, or to dream dreams or have visions. We are called first of all to belong to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and to keep our lives warmed at the hearth of His life. It is there the fire will be lit which will create new structures and programs of service that will draw others into the circle to dream dreams and have visions.”
May this devotional thought be a source of encouragement and timely reminder for your purposeful life as a God’s faithful soldier for His kingdom mission.
By Major Young Sung Kim
(Territorial Ambassador for Holiness)