The sin of putting on a show
The sin of putting on a show
24 April 2018
Is a Salvation Army corps a place where we entertain an audience, or train ordinary people to make God’s Kingdom happen on earth?
On my way home from a Sunday meeting at my corps recently, the following thought developed as a result of the corps officer’s message: I wonder if more believers have left church due to boredom rather than radical beliefs.They were expected to be an applauding audience rather than active agents for transformation and holiness.
We have all seen it happen. It dawns on us that a particular person or some young people or a family are not attending the corps fellowship anymore. As far as my experience goes, it often happens that they drop out silently because they are not asked to contribute according to their gifts and therefore become bored. They are offered repetitious religious activities instead of being challenged and given an opportunity to serve with Jesus in their community.
When I was a corps officer I felt this weakness myself. There were far too many day-to-day things taking my attention. There were too many easier things to do and be content with, than getting a grip on the long-term issues like investing quality time in people (individuals as well as the leadership team).
It has also been my experience that people have distanced themselves from the corps and felt awkward when the Holy Spirit is moving. Spiritual renewal can be difficult and is noticeable by its disturbance of the present. It challenges the status quo and it has happened that Salvationists have left their corps because they are afraid to set out on the journey of personal spiritual renewal.
It is indeed sad when anyone leaves the fellowship of God’s people, for whatever reason. Still, I see a difference in how to respond depending on the reason.
If it is a reaction to God renewing the lives and work of his people, the response is not to stop the work of the Spirit but help people deal with transformation. When we live in a fellowship where there is trust and love, most people will be willing to accept support along our journey of holiness.
I find it more difficult to handle satisfaction and complacency from local leadership. It is probably a temptation to us all. We know that we are doing well, have experience and that there is no one who can match our performance. We can even become dependent on the positive feedback and applause. That kind of attitude is not just the beginning of the end for a corps, but I would also call it a sin, because it sets our personal satisfaction before that of making Jesus and love for our neighbours the focus of our attention.
I believe God appreciates it when we serve him with excellence. In order to be a corps, a fellowship that functions as an agent for transforming ordinary people to become followers of Jesus, we need to give our all and do our best in all areas of life. However, we need to create a culture in which people can see that perfect love is more important than perfect performance.
Commissioner Marie Willermark is Territorial Commander, Germany, Lithuania and Poland Territory.