Summary: Discipleship / soldiership living by the teaching of Jesus and through the gifted leading of Apostiles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Why so that we can be united, knowledgable, and mature. Growing into the likeness of Jesus.
To be like Jesus: Ephesians 4:11-16.
Today’s a big one in our nation, we celebrate Waitangi Day when an agreement was made between the majority of the Maori Chiefs and the Crown, agreement was reached between the parties and a covenant was signed, in 1840.
There is much to be said for having an agreement with someone or making a stand for something, I guess that many of you here would have signed employment contracts, or registered a car or a dog, some will have a covenant relationship of marriage with their spouse or a covenant with God as a soldier of the Salvation Army or as a member of another church. This week we are having a look at the second goal of The Salvation Army Territorial Strategic Mission Plan, which is to “Increase the Number of Soldiers”.
If you are new to the Salvation Army as a bit of an idea of who Salvation Army soldiers are, they are in part, the people around the hall in uniform, but not only those people. To be a soldier does not mean you have to wear a uniform.
Some of you may have heard that I once went to a church where the men all wore ties, I never went back and I referred to it as the tie church, wearing a tie was not my cup of tea, now I’m a minister/officer in a church with uniforms which include ties. God has a sense of humour.
It’s not about what we wear, it’s about the relationship of agreement that we have with God, to be a covenanted believer, a soldier who agrees to certain standards in their life and The Salvation Army doctrines.
The pillar that we have in this Corps that relates to Soldiership is Discipleship. The verses that have been chosen that relate to this pillar are Ephesians 4:14. To give a bit more understanding to the passage I’ve chosen from verses 11 to 16 to talk about today. (read)
Well why be a soldier in the Salvation Army? I’ll tell you what, here are a couple of reasons not to be a soldier; because you think it will instantly solve all of your spiritual issues, or because you like the uniform.
Your reasoning for becoming a soldier needs to be considered and prayed over. Those who are soldiers have entered into a covenant relationship with God.
The term soldier is one that was used to describe Christian believers, from early on in the church. This from 2 Timothy 2:4: “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer”. The commanding officer referred to here is not Lieutenant Andrew or Rochelle, it is Jesus.
If we look at the Ephesians passage; the reasoning for committing to soldiership becomes clear.
1) Verses 11 and 12 point to the fact that Jesus himself, made it that some in the early church would have various leadership roles, he did this through the leading of and gifting of people by the Holy Spirit; some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, but why? “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until…” let me leave you hanging on that word until (pp). Until what?
From this we see that without those gifted people the Church would not be what it should have been, or what it became, it would not be complete it would be developed to a point, but was in need of building up, so Jesus gifted certain people for those roles that built up the church.
So why the until? I’ll answer that in a minute.
First let me tell you a story, many years ago I went to Outward Bound, if you’ve been I was in ‘Cook Watch 222’.. Part of the course entails the watch being put in charge of a 32 foot open cutter (pp) after half a days training and instruction. Keep thinking about the until. So there we were masters of our own nautical fate, we were shadowed by our course instructor in another boat but were pretty much left to get this boat down Queen Charlotte sound to Ship Cove then out to Arapawa Island and back to Anakiwa. We needed very quickly to figure out command structures and sailing ability among our watch otherwise we were just as likely to sink the Cutter or get rundown by an Inter-Island Ferry. We needed to be united what we did. We very quickly became a crew.
So the until, why were some put in those positions that built up the church, “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.” It’s a little like my watch at Outward Bound, Cook Watch 222 becoming knowledgeable and cohesive as a crew, capable of sailing together with a pattern of understanding of how that will be done, so they can get to where they are going and back in one piece.