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Aug8ThuKeep pressing on for the sake of the gospel. August 8, 2019 by Commissioner Susan McMillan
It’s a strange feeling to be coming to the end of my leadership as territorial commander and territorial president of women’s ministries. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to visit so many of our corps and ministry units across the territory, and to see the dedication of Salvationists to the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are memories I will long cherish.
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Although I’m used to moving on (as an officers’ kid, I don’t know any other way of life), in this case I’m not moving away. At the end of September, I will hand the leadership of this great territory over to someone else and take up new responsibilities with the business section of International Headquarters, based in Canada.
As I sat to write this final column, I read through Philippians 2. It is a fitting message to share with you at this point in my ministry, and I invite you to open your Bible and read it now.
Paul is writing this letter because he has been taken prisoner in Rome and is unable to visit the church in Philippi. He wants to impart some words of wisdom that will encourage them in their spiritual walk and move them to action for the sake of the gospel. I hope to do the same for Salvationists in the Canada and Bermuda Territory through this humble offering.
Paul asks them to fulfil his joy by living up to the teaching they have received. My friends, there is nothing more effective than a church that lives up to what it teaches and preaches. So I ask you to fulfil my joy and continue to grow in God’s grace and in the knowledge of his Word so that you (and I) can be his faithful representatives.
We are encouraged to be respectful of each other and, at the same time, to serve others. Paul describes this way of life as having the same attitude as Jesus and, just in case we don’t know what that attitude is, he describes it for us in verses 5-11—verses that have come to be known as the Christ Hymn. They tell of Christ’s humility and suffering, his power and his glory. We are to assume the same posture of humility and to endure with grace any hardships that come our way. We need to be obedient to the will of our heavenly Father, as he was, and to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. It’s a great hymn, but it’s meant to be lived out, rather than sung.
Paul doesn’t mince words with the Philippian Christians, and I think his words are appropriate and important for us to hear and put into practice. He wrote: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:12-16).
We may be living in an even more warped and crooked generation today, and so it is really important for us to shine. To do that, we need a renewed focus on holiness. May God help us to become the people he meant us to be, blameless and pure, so that we can have a transforming influence on this generation.
We know that we can’t do that on our own; we need the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to come back to the cross and ask God to touch us again and fill us to overflowing with his love. I’m convinced that the direction we have set for our territory with our strategic priorities over these last years is the right one for us. That direction is toward the cross of Christ, and may we bring along as many as we can in the process.
If that is the direction that The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda continues to take, my joy will be complete, and I will be able to say with Paul, “I did not run or labour in vain” (Philippians 2:16) and, I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
God bless The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory.
Commissioner Susan McMillan is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. A farewell service for Commissioner McMillan will be held on September 29 in Bermuda. Watch live at 9 a.m. EDT on our livestream channel.
Photo: MarioGuti/iStock via Getty Images