Summary: A message of encouragement during a Corps visit in the values of The Salvation Army.
A short survey; can I see a show of hands, who has had a really good week? Who has had an average sort of week? I can see from your faces that some have had a really tough week.
I asked these questions because sometimes we come to a place like this thinking, we are all in the same boat. Others may have had a really different week to us while some may have had a week that is similar to ours, this week.
I’d like to share something about myself with you.
The family that I grew up in are an interesting bunch of people, I come from an average-sized family by Fijian standards there are four of us kids, I have an older sister, a younger sister and a younger brother, while he’s the youngest he’s now 50. My Dad was a Plumber for all his working life, he had his own business and Mum was a lab technician before children and after children also. Dad passed on in 2016 and Mum is still alive and living in Nelson in New Zealand, she turns 83 this year.
Sadly, Dad never got to meet Ayodya or Janaki, why that is a sad thing is because he would have really enjoyed their company and I’m sure that they would have enjoyed his. Dad was a very good Grandfather, an excellent Grandad to our boys and their cousins. I would say the practice that he had to bring his own kids up mellowed him a bit in life, I say this because he was a strict father, a good man, very straight up, very honest, very firm and strict. I however only recall Dad going to Church once, he and Mum came along when we were Corps Officers at Sydenham Corps. Dad had his own belief system and was very focused on it.
Growing up if I was ever going out Dad would say, “Remember who you belong to.” I think this was his way of saying, “behave yourself son”, and that if I got up to no good he would hear about it. Nelson at that time was a pretty small place.
In John’s gospel, we come across a passage of scripture where Jesus tells his disciples in an interesting way who they belong to. At the start of the 13th Chapter of this gospel just before the Passover feast Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of lords gets down on his knees and washes his disciples’ feet. He does this and says to his disciples “you call me ‘Teacher and ‘Lord’ rightly so for that is what I am.” He goes onto say that “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Jesus their Master washed their feet and he told them to do the same setting an example. This was the role normally kept for the lowest servant in the household, why because during the day the streets were full of animals and animal by-products, the feet carried this and diseases that went with it. The Master served; remember that, Jesus our Master served.
The point however I want to get to here is that the way Jesus did what my Dad would do when I was going out somewhere was to say to his disciples, “By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. Repeat
This was a commandment, a command, no suggestion here, “love one another!” In addition to Jesus pointing out the two great commands that sum up the law and the prophets this – new commandment, to love one another!
So here we have Jesus doing this thing, giving the disciples a heads up on how they should behave and the outcome of that behaviour, when they were going out somewhere. Jesus does it in a way that is easy to remember. Something like ‘Boys, people will know you are my disciples if you, love one another.’
Really simple this – no smart goals, no fancy vision and mission statement, no ensuring everyone on the team has a position with certain responsibilities and the uniform, no uniform, no outcomes reported back to DHQ. Please don’t think that I don’t think that in our organisation these are not useful and sometimes important things. The only thing that Jesus points out here as an important witness to “all men” of the disciples being Jesus disciples is that they “love one another”. This is really clear cut, if you, if we, want to be recognised as Jesus disciples, if we want to have an effective Christian witness – we are to love one another. It is key for our witness as individuals as a Corps, as a movement that we are acting out of love for our fellow believers and neighbours, those people we mix within community no matter who they are.