Fostering a spirit of unity
Fostering a spirit of unity
31 October 2018
In late 2015, while managing editor of The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory’s now-defunct magazine, Pipeline, I wrote an editorial about change.
I had been prompted by the introduction of the Forward Together strategy – a bold vision that promised to usher in a new era for the Australia Eastern Territory.
If I could have seen only a handful of months into the future, maybe I would have kept my powder dry.
Change, at least for those connected with The Salvation Army in Australia, was taken to a whole new level in March 2016, with the announcement of the merger of the Australia Eastern and Southern territories into one national territory.
Since then, the transition to an Australia Territory has been a challenging journey of change. In just a handful of weeks, though, on 1 December 2018, that journey comes to its culmination when The Salvation Army Australia Territory will be officially launched.
Some of you will no doubt feel a sense of excitement at what lies ahead, while others may feel a rising anxiety, brought on by the uncertainty that change brings.
Let’s face it, many of us find comfort and security in the status quo and recoil at the mention that perhaps things should be different? But change in life is inevitable.
An important factor in smoothing national unification will be an ongoing willingness to foster a spirit of unity, especially between Salvationists who have become all-too familiar with identifying themselves as part of either the Eastern or Southern territories.
Unity. It’s something that God has a lot to say about. In fact, genuine unity within the Church is so important to him, that very little gets done without it.
Sadly, disunity is something that has always plagued the body of Christ.
The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church just 20 years after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, highlighted the cracks that had already begun to appear: “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you ...” (1 Corinthians 11:17-18).
So, how does The Salvation Army in Australia, in the creation of a new national territory, foster a spirit of unity? It might mean forgoing personal preferences or putting aside petty differences.
Ultimately, though, genuine unity among us isn’t going to be fostered and maintained if we are not deeply connected and living in fellowship with the Spirit ourselves. Ephesians 4:3 tells us to, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”.
God’s Spirit wants us to love and forgive and be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2), especially at this historic time.
That’s what God’s Spirit wants for The Salvation Army Australia Territory, that we would stay together, work together, and as a consequence fulfil our National Vision Statement, that “wherever there is hardship or injustice, Salvos will live, love and fight, alongside others, to transform Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus”. Over to you.
Scott Simpson is the Managing Editor of Others.