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The path that calls us to self denial

The path that calls us to self denial

The path that calls us to self denial

4 March 2020

Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Scott Simpson, urges us to genuine sacrifice this Self Denial Appeal. Photo: Ben White

By Scott Simpson

'Doing whatever it takes'. It’s a phrase that has received widespread use across The Salvation Army in Australia over the past decade, particularly in the former Australia Eastern Territory and primarily in connection with what were its Mission Priorities.

It rolls off the tongue quite nicely and is a call to action that can be quite effective in stirring passion for mission. But have you ever stopped to consider for a moment the gravity of these four simple words in the context of our service for God? Doing whatever it takes. Doing whatever.

To utter these words is to signal our absolute abandonment to God. “Take me, Lord, I am yours. I am willing to go wherever and do whatever to further your Kingdom.” They are words that must not be spoken lightly before a God who, Scripture tells us (Matt 12:36), will hold us accountable for every careless thing we say.

The Salvation Army Self Denial Appeal was launched on 23 February. The six weeks of the focused Self Denial Appeal campaign this year will follow a similar format, featuring a series of videos and culminating in an Altar Service on Sunday 29 March. These videos, as they do every year, highlight the sacrificial service by The Salvation Army – and individual Salvationists in particular – in going into dark and desperate situations to shine the light of God's love. They are people who are doing ‘whatever it takes’.

Over the next few weeks as you spend time in God’s Word and praying in preparation for the Self Denial Appeal, take a moment to consider whether you really are ‘doing whatever it takes’ to further God’s kingdom. Is your support of this vital annual appeal really ‘self denial’, or more a comfortable act of giving which falls short of genuine sacrifice?

A number of years ago, in the lead-up to Easter, I was shown a short yet confrontational video that depicted a conversation between Jesus and Satan. In it, Satan, in taunting Christ about ‘The Fall’, tells Jesus that to redeem humanity will cost him everything – that he must be prepared to lay down his life. Christ’s simple yet history altering response to the taunt: “I am willing to do whatever it takes.”

For Jesus, ‘doing whatever it takes’ meant laying down his life – an excruciating death on a cross – before his glorious resurrection three days later.

As followers of Christ we, too, are told to daily take up our cross (Luke 9:23). For most of us, this journey won’t lead to a literal cross, but it is a path that calls us to self denial. It’s a road we must all take before we can truly say we are “doing whatever it takes”. Are you willing to take the journey?

Scott Simpson is Assistant Editor-in-Chief

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