In the book 1929 by General Larsson there is this quote from the Founder to his successor in a letter presented to Bramwell immediately after being named General (hat tip CH).
"Persevere on the lines of aggression. Beware of stagnation. Set a watch against the natural conservatism of character--you must go forward on the lines of conquest or you must perish."
There you go.
Are we persevering on the lines of aggression? Is what you are doing in your daily life aggressive? Does your schedule resemble perseverance on the lines of aggression? Is it something that the demon’s wake up to every morning cringing? Is it something that the victims of oppression wake up to every morning with hope?
Are you wary about sliding into stagnation? It is easy to get into a routine that quickly solidifies into a rut. If you are stagnating, challenge yourself. Throw some curves into your schedule. Maybe add a midnight war room shift. Maybe add another weekly evangelistic foray. Maybe aim to evangelise all of your friends/workmates/classmates by the end of September. Maybe determine to read the New Testament twice this month. Maybe read your soldiers covenant daily in September.
Let’s advance on the lines of conquest. First, conquer your own life. Get sanctified. Determine your life according to God’s revelation and teaching. Live intentionally. Fight zealously.
Then you can help sort out others. People in your DisCo (discipleship covenant group) will benefit from your success. Your disciples will. Your comrades as the corps will. Your family and friends will. Those you are evangelizing will. And so on.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Now, we recognize that the Founder was writing to the second general regarding the salvation war of The Salvation Army. So, some broad comments are pertinent, here.
Beware of stagnation.
Wow. In some places we’ve fallen into it. We punch the clock, fill in the order of meeting, sleepwalk through it and the rest of the week without expecting God to show up in any way that will inconvenience us, let alone turn our world upside down. In some places we major on the trivial. We have policies about how long we can talk on the phone long distance and how many courses you have to take before we can leave you with another ‘qualified’ adult in a car to drive home some kids from Sunday School and how many days we can take off.
Our priorities, as measured by the pages of our magazines, foci of our websites, appointments on our calendars, goals of our strategies – in some places – shout ‘stagnation’. We’re satisfied with the status quo. Our mercy seats are clean and dry. We excel at fellowships and ‘club’ activities, we focus on enriching ourselves, we pretend that our music if for others and the Lord, and we convince ourselves that people were ‘blessed’ (so we can sleep at night).
Beware of stagnation.
‘Watch against the natural conservatism of character’.
The Salvation Army enjoys an excellent reputation. We have great credibility. Praise God for those who boldly and faithfully fought over the last 147 years or so to establish this profile.
With some exceptions, though, we don’t leverage our considerable reputation and credibility to ‘persevere on the lines of aggression’. Instead of exploiting it, we protect it. We treasure the favour we enjoy. We avoid strategies that would threaten the status quo in society. We make rationalizations that we are working behind the scenes to accomplish the same ends. We fail to watch against the natural conservatism of character.
We’re not aiming to please society but our Saviour. We’re not looking to win kudos but to win converts. We’re not shooting for a slot on another top ten list (of enduring institutions, top charities, best organizations) but a spot in the hall of faith.
So, what to do?
Well, after we take care of conquering ourselves, let’s leverage. Let’s fight against evil. Let’s risk everything for the Gospel. Let’s pour our resources – people, reputation, networks, infrastructure, cash, properties, etc. – into the salvation war NOW, instead of building up a nest egg that will ultimately rot away.
One way to fight the natural conservatism of character is to aim to invest everything we have into the salvation war now – aiming to win while we live in this town, have this appointment, while we are in this decade. If the decade is out and we haven’t poured everything we have into the war, have we any reason to be surprised or disappointed that the war hasn’t been won?