Are you a radical follower of Jesus? Does your lifestyle look different to most people? Or does your life look like everyone else’s, but with a sprinkling of Jesus on the side? Could Salvation Army soldiership help? What role does The Salvation Army soldier covenant play?
Jesus told his disciples:
Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23 NRSVA).
That’s pretty radical, isn’t it? Jesus goes on to talk about losing our lives for his sake. There are no half measures here! Our lifestyle should be totally different to those who do not follow Jesus. We must do (or not do) whatever it takes to deny ourselves – our wants and preferences – take up our cross and learn to live like Jesus did, totally focused on the mission and purpose God had given him.
Salvation Army Soldiership
To help Salvationists do that, General William Booth and the founding leaders created The Salvation Army Soldier Covenant (previously known as the Articles of War), which set out what this radical lifestyle should look like for Salvationists:
Having accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, and desiring to fulfil my membership of His Church on earth as a soldier of The Salvation Army, I now by God’s grace enter into a sacred covenant.
I believe and will live by the truths of the word of God expressed in The Salvation Army’s eleven articles of faith …
I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and obedient to His leading in my life, growing in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible. I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.
I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life, allowing nothing in thought, word or deed that is unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral.
I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with others; my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community.
I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life. I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.
I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.
I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged.
I will be actively involved, as I am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps, giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to support its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army.
I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.
I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God’s help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army Soldier Covenant: A Radical Lifestyle
Wow! The Salvation Army soldier covenant really is radical. If every Salvationist (including me) truly lived up to The Salvation Army soldier covenant, then we would be fulfilling Jesus’ command to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
It would mean always being obedient to the Holy Spirit, whatever he asks us to do or not do.
It means engaging in worship, prayer, Bible study and service in ways that help us to grow into spiritual maturity.
It would mean letting go of what the world values and embracing Kingdom values instead.
It would mean checking our every thought, every word spoken and every action and behaviour to ensure there was nothing unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral in our lives.
It would mean loving everyone I come into contact with. Not just those I find easy to love, but the unlovable too, including (according to Jesus) my enemies.
It means being faithful in our marriages and family lives.
It would mean I am not free to spend my time, gifts and money, nor use my possessions as I like. I have to be accountable to God for them.
It means abstaining from all enslaving substances and habits, recognising that in some things, partaking of them “in moderation” isn’t radical enough in this day and age. Some things are potentially too enslaving not to deny them and take up my cross, however much I might want them.
It means being one hundred per cent devoted to saving souls, growing saints and serving suffering humanity.
It means being actively involved in my local Salvation Army corps (church) and giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to its work. Tithing is not for the Salvationist! Radically, William Booth suggested starting at 10 per cent. and going upwards from there!
It will mean being true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army and loyal to its leaders, however frail it and they might sometimes seem.
Is The Salvation Army soldier covenant radical enough for you? It certainly looks different to the average 21st century lifestyle. To the extent I follow it and live it out it prevents my life from becoming like everyone else’s but with a sprinkling of Jesus on the side. It certainly helps me deny myself, and it is the best way I know to take up my cross. What about you?
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Why not check out these posts from around the blog?
- Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant as a Missional Strategy
- Productivity: The Challenge of Balance
- Leadership: Why Me?
- We Believe | Onward, Christian Soldiers (1 Peter 2)
- Salvation Army – Saved to Save
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