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Jul13FriAs we enjoy the summer, let's remain open to new opportunities to share our faith with others. July 13, 2012 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
By the time you read this, summer will have arrived, marked by warm temperatures, the enjoyment of the great outdoors, school break and maybe even a long-anticipated vacation. I appreciate this time of the year as it offers the opportunity to enjoy longer days, barbecue gatherings and the occasional picnic in the park with family and friends. I hope this summer is absolutely memorable for you.
The Church joins in on this rhythm of life. Established programs are curtailed, fewer people attend church services and some say the effectiveness of evangelism is mothballed until the big welcome back in September. Instead of taking the summer off, I wonder if it isn't time to consider taking the summer on. Before you dismiss this as a fruitless thought, hear me out.
I recently listened to a speaker who used the phrase, “the blessedness of faith.” In the thoughts that followed, there was the reminder that faith is a beautiful gift from God to us—not only to you and me, but to others as well. In my devotions lately, I have been praying that The Salvation Army in the Canada and Bermuda Territory would, with renewed energy, re-engage with its missional heart. I hope for a renewed engagement of God's people in his mission in the world. My sense is that the fields are ripe for harvest (see John 4:35-38). I suggest that this is even more the case as we enjoy the warm and welcoming days of summer.
Instead of taking a break this season, I ask that you take the time to notice opportunities to witness. During the summer, we see and talk with our neighbours more often, we find a few more minutes at work to talk and catch up with our co-workers, and our extended family members tend to visit more often. Perhaps the danger of taking too much down time is that the “blessedness of faith” is taken for granted and, worst of all, we miss divinely arranged opportunities to share our faith in the common reality of life.
You may be thinking, “You want me to be a missionary in the summer? You must be kidding!” But let's look at it this way. God chooses to be active in the world by being active in our lives. We are the ones sent into the world. If the body of Christ is dispersed a little more than usual because of the cottage, road trips and camping, maybe these days can become the divinely orchestrated new opportunities in which someone becomes part of God's Kingdom. Bear in mind that these are new opportunities with a limited shelf life, so when the colder winds begin to howl, we will go back to our programs and lingering over the backyard fence will not be possible until the next summer.
I love the vision of the gathered church. I have images in my mind of congregations I have shared with over this past year. Though these are beautiful and inspiring memories, what intrigues me most is what I can't see except by faith. It is what happens when the benediction is spoken and the congregants are sent out to live lives blessed by faith in places where the preacher will never go.
This month marks one year since my wife and I returned to the Canada and Bermuda Territory to serve as territorial leaders. During this time, our hearts have been encouraged, challenged and inspired by what we see as a conviction, resonating in the hearts of Salvationists, declaring over and over that The Salvation Army exists to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity. Our own testimony is that we are convinced that we are redeemed for a reason and, therefore, committed to a cause. By his grace we declare the gospel of Jesus Christ and do so unashamedly. We are a blessed people. Take time to share your story and let God's activity in your life lead you to many opportunities to share with others.
As Eugene Peterson writes in The Message paraphrase of Galatians 6:9-10, “So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.