In This Uneasy & Frightened World, Where Does the Salvationist Stand?"Always and everywhere, whether men bear or forbear, he will maintain a clear witness for Jesus Christ as the hope and Savior of the world."
In 1946, I was honored to meet President Truman at the White House in Washington, D.C. After I had ventured to express the hope and prayer that the United States of America might prove by God’s blessing to be the principal lamplighter in a darkened world, the President, speaking of the duties of his office and mine, said, “General, you and I are working in our different ways for the same purpose: the peace of the world.”
Nearly five years have passed since I visited the White House. No man can say that there is peace in the heart of the world today. From the windows of our International Headquarters I look out upon a world darkened by storm clouds. Here and there I see the dull, red glow of fires, intensified at times into a sudden flash of demonic fury. Battle is joined—men and machines are striving for mastery. Ever and anon a new cry of fear and distress breaks upon the ear, and no one is conscious of a fresh upheaval.
Some of our own comrades have fallen to the bullets of anti-Christian persecutors. Others are imprisoned. Many suffer all manner of cruel social pressures upon themselves and their families because of their faith and witness. Our Army, which is part of the Lord’s living body on Earth, is bearing His Cross and sharing His wounds.
In my travels in the five continents, I have had opportunities for observing the trends of thought and assessing the true desires of men. It has been my privilege to speak with many rulers and statesmen, and leaders of thought and action, as well as countless ordinary people.
Of all subjects arousing and engaging interest I have found one that undoubtedly holds first place. It quickens conversation, lights the lamps of hope and even though the gleam is often dimmed by the shadow of fear: it makes congregations intense and alerts pressmen like a trumpet-note; it fills and floods alike political speeches, pulpit utterances, radio broadcasts and public prayer. It is the word peace.
As I recall my boyhood in the ‘nineties, and the noisy sequence of the following years, I have an impression of almost ceaseless wars mounting to the Second World War in an unbroken flood of waste, hate and misery.
With sickening horror, I now hear the voices of world statesmen informing a helpless and traumatic public that they must prepare to spend unimaginable millions on armaments and forces at the cost of many simple amenities and the shattering of innocent and cherished dreams of home and comfort and personal independence. It is all heartbreaking, and no amount of sophistry can make sense of it, let alone make it right. It is satan’s cruel game of counters, with the lives of men, women and little children and their simple loves and treasures as forfeits—the cruel dilemma of mankind when war, famine and pestilence drive us headlong to doom.
Doubtless the hopes and ideals of peace are variously interpreted. With many, it is merely a confused and inarticulate longing, a desire to be left alone. Others desire peace as a condition of good business, profitable enterprise, personal security. Some, no doubt want peace for pleasure and for their own pursuits. Many see it, however, as something more than a pause between battles, something more than a political expedient, backed by bigger and better bombs, or an opportunity for vanity to have its fling—they see peace as the fruits of righteousness, conditioned by unselfishness, within the Kingdom and reign of Jesus Christ.
In this uneasy and frightened world, where does the Salvationist stand, and what should he do?
The Salvationist will remember and regulate his life by that word of Scripture which saith: “Whatever happens be self-possessed, flinch from no suffering, do your work as an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5, Moffatt).
He will not show the alarm of the worldly minded, whose whole world is founded and bounded by personal possessions and pleasures. He will behave and speak like a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom. If suffering comes, perhaps in the form of unpopularity, isolation and contempt, and even in open persecution, he will rejoice that he is counted worthy to share his Master’s Cross.
Always and everywhere, whether men bear or forbear, he will maintain a clear witness for Jesus Christ as the hope and Savior of the world.
The Salvationist will not be ashamed of Jesus. He will maintain his faith in the power of personal testimony, in the preaching of Christ crucified, and the conviction that man cannot save man, but God alone.
He will not allow himself to be deluded into believing that there is any saving Gospel for the human race other than that proclaimed in the New Testament.
The Salvationist will firmly adhere to, and express by word and deed his faith that all members of the human family are as one in the sight of God. He will cherish and strengthen the spiritual bonds of our international Army, wherein we are truly united, not by any artificial cement, but in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.
He will hate and abjure all narrow, intolerant and truculent racialism, whether at home or abroad. Loyal to his own country, with a love that is not blind he will not boast of blood superiority nor regard any other race as inferior.
If animosities arise, and threats and counter-threats poison the air, he will have in mind the meekness and forbearance of Christ and speak and act accordingly. Under no circumstances will he hate others, individually or in groups, he will “hate the sin with all his heart, and yet the sinner love.”
The Salvationist is a soldier of peace in an army of peace. He is a man of peace in his very soul. This means that in his personal and private life he walks honestly and not in strife and envying. He refuses to be a participant in any kind of violence in family, corps or in community life, if he realizes that Christ would be grieved and His body hurt by any such action. He is willing to be known as a man who at all times will “seek peace and pursue it.”
He builds his character and reputation accordingly. His standard is not “peace at any price,” but “love at all costs.” He is not a supine and meanspirited man, incapable of wrath, willing to follow the line of least resistance.
In moral and spiritual welfare he will be found where sacrifice “unto blood” is called for and given, but he will never be found raising hand or voice for selfish ends.
If he finds his loyalty as a citizen involves him in martial duties which he would never choose but must needs accept, he carries his loyalty to Christ and his Salvationist principles into barracks and battlefield, ashore or afloat, on the airfield or aloft. Should he be conscientiously unable to bear arms, he will nevertheless display a true son’s loyalty to his parent-country and be prepared to suffer and to serve as a requirement. In such case, though he may find himself in a minority, even among his own comrades, he will remain true and unembittered in his spirit.
The world would seem to be rapidly approaching a state of tension, anxiety and embattled misery, when man’s self-reliance must break an account of stresses within his own structures. Signs of a return to God are, nevertheless, beginning to appear; more and more people are beginning to cry, “Who will show us any good?” Let Salvationists everywhere give themselves to prayer and the preaching of God’s word, instant in season, out of season.
Let us not think that what we need is redoubled effort, although it is still true that faith without works is dead. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord…”
If the prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come,” is to be fulfilled and answered, it will be by the faithfulness of our Lord’s disciples, when fiery trials come upon them. In the midst of conflicts, they must remain loyal to the person and purposes of the Prince of Peace. They must not show surprise or annoyance when troubles and sorrows come upon them.
Steadfastly enduring “as seeing Him who is invisible” and with faith and love rekindled by the Holy Spirit, let our Army everywhere quicken its spiritual offensive. The time is “now.”
“It is time to seek the Lord”…The clock is almost at midnight—but also–the morning.