Do I do, or do I don't?
Do I do, or do I don't?
20 August 2019
Around 30 years ago my approach to Christian living was dramatically influenced by a statement that went something like this: “People often talk about the don’ts of Christianity but there are a lot more dos than don’ts and if you spend your time doing the dos you won’t have time to do the don’ts.”
Is it true? Well, I’ve never taken the time to try to count up all the dos and don’ts in the Bible.
I have, however, out of my ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, tried to major on the dos. And, actually, it’s not easy to keep focused because Christianity is frequently described by the don’ts.
Even when Salvationists speak about being a soldier, often we say: “Well, it means we don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t take illegal drugs, don’t look at pornography and don’t gamble.”
This regularly brings a, “Wow, you don’t have any fun” response.
However, the response can be different when we speak about all we can do. The Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant – the Articles of War – takes this approach.
Instead of ‘I don’ts’, the Articles of War has many ‘I wills’ – dos.
“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!
We are choosing to be proactive for our own good. I will abstain ... so that I am free to be all God made me to be.
Now, if I am abstaining from all of that – what will I do instead?
My ‘I will’ promises as a soldier of The Salvation Army give me plenty to do.
In summary, they are:
• I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life.
• I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships.
• I will make the values of the Kingdom of God the standard for my life.
• I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and will obey the Holy Spirit.
• I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and family life.
• I will use my time, gifts, money, possessions, body, mind and spirit wisely knowing I am accountable to God.
• I will share the Good News of Jesus so that others will come to love him.
• I will care for the needy and disadvantaged.
• I will be fully actively involved in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps – supporting its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army with who I am and what I have to give.
• I will be true to the principles and practices of the Army.
• I will be loyal to the leaders.
• I will show the spirit of Salvationism no matter whether we are popular or being persecuted.
The adventure of unpacking the ‘I wills’ provides an abundance of things to do.
And a massive amount of this doing involves my attitude and how I choose to live because being who God wants me to be has to be at the heart of my doing.
This means the ‘I wills’ raise many stretching questions such as: How does Christian integrity change how I live life? If I bring Christian ideals into my relationships including work, what difference will that make? Do I even know what God’s values are?
Who or what is this Holy Spirit and how does this spirit communicate with me? What is the sanctity of family life? How can I know what is the best use of time, money, possessions, spiritual and natural gifts, skills, mind and my body?
Do I fit my corps involvement around the rest of life or does everything else fit around loving and serving God through the corps? How can my Christian living impact my family and work?
Of course, I am not perfect in doing the ‘I wills’. That’s why the most important ‘I will’ is: “I will give my life to Jesus, confess my sin, seek his forgiveness, love and direction as I grow to be more like him.”
Lieut-Colonel Laurie Robertson is The Salvation Army Australia Territory Editor-in-Chief.