(Above) General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, at the launch for Called to be a Soldier and Day by Day at International Headquarters in July 2021
When I picked up a copy of Day by Day, the discipleship resource General Brian Peddle released last year as part of his Call to Mission, my mind went back to the mid-’90s, and the memory of listening to a song with the same name by dc Talk:
I live a simple life, I take a day at a time
I spend my mornings with God before I hit the grind
The subtleties of darkness never cease to amaze
As a physical world creates a spiritual haze
Blinded by distractions
Lost in matterless affairs
Reaching through the darkness
Trusting you will meet me there
The call to discipleship, to be God’s people, his army of salvation, is a call to all of us. It is a call to daily sacrifice and spiritual battle. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
In the introduction of the book, Commissioner Robert Street writes, “The call of Jesus is for life. It isn’t a short-term project or meant to be a temporary commitment. Nor does half-hearted or selective following work. The call of Jesus is from God himself, inviting us to walk through life with him. The privilege of all privileges.”
The inspiration for the book and song reach back even further, to the prayer of St. Richard:
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day. Amen.
In 2017, the Canada and Bermuda Territory placed an emphasis on soldiership through the Calling the Courageous campaign. Resources to encourage and support soldiers were developed and made available throughout the year. “A growing Army is the measure,” was the aim, defined not only by the numbers on our rolls, but more importantly by the strength of our Army, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
When God called Gideon to lead his army into battle, vast numbers were seen as an impediment (see Judges 6). What mattered was readiness, courageous faith and, most importantly, the willingness to put personal ambition below the desire to see God’s will accomplished, for his glory above all.
A call to soldiership within The Salvation Army should be a call that comes out of one’s answer to the call of discipleship.
In the forward to Called to Be a Soldier, General Brian Peddle writes: “God’s calling places us within a community that is different and seeks to make a difference. For Salvationists, this calling finds its place with the community known as The Salvation Army. It is the Salvationist conviction that our mission is shaped by our Christian understanding of salvation. For this reason, we are an Army of salvation. We are an Army committed to bring God’s healing love and welcoming grace wherever we can, and to help bring God’s justice into our world. We are also called to holy living, understanding a biblical call and a Salvation Army focus through our doctrine to personally and communally seek what this means in practical terms. These are all expressions of salvation. We do this by the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, and we do this together.”
As in Gideon’s day, not all will sense a call to soldiership. And that’s OK. Being an adherent is also full membership within our part of the body of Christ. But we should continue to recognize and value the call to soldiership, which provides a context to live out one’s discipleship, uniquely covenanted with others in the local setting and around the globe, who have also answered this call to be fully engaged, partnered and active Salvationists.
A growing Army is not measured by numbers alone. It is measured by strengthened spiritual health: robust personal discipleship, spiritually vibrant corps and flourishing communities.
The early church is an example of early salvationism and a picture of a growing army: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold propertyand possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
May we continue to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), toward a growing Army.
Called to be a Soldier and Day by Day are available to every Salvationist for free. Ask your corps officer for more information.
Kevin Slous is the territorial secretary for spiritual life development.
Photos: IHQ Communications