JAC Online

A Soldier's Covenant
by Jessica Bryant

In the few years that I’ve been involved in the Salvation Army, I’ve seen a lot of people come in and out. Many of these people were just testing the waters; or so to speak. While, many of these same people came simply for free lunch after the Sunday morning service.

My main concern is seeing Soldiers drift in and out of their uniforms. It's okay to struggle and work through things with your faith and with your covenant (if we didn't, then how would we learn or grow stronger)? As far as I'm concerned, it is healthy to figure things out. What’s unhealthy is turning your back on the church, or worse on your Covenant. I have seen too many Soldiers think that their commitment means nothing, and they simply abandon the church that loved them, encouraged them and taught them.

A Solidership covenant with the Salvation Army is just that, a covenant. As such we should treat it like one. A covenant is an unbreakable agreement between you and God. As a Christian, your commitment is to God. As a Soldier, you sign a covenant choosing to follow that commitment through the Salvation Army.

If you've ever read Genesis 15, then you might have thought to yourself "Why does God tell Abram (soon to be Abraham) to cut all those animals into pieces and walk through them?” (Ok, so maybe you’ve didn’t think about that, or even read Genesis 15 for that matter, but you should just check it out to get a handle on what I’m laying down). Well, God wasn't just doing it to be gross (FYI, I’m a vegetarian). It was symbolism. It was as if God was saying "if I break this covenant, I deserve to be like one of these animals." So in the end, the punishment for breaking the covenant is death.

I don’t think soldiers, or pre-soldiers; really understand the full weight of that commitment. When you sign something, like the articles of war, you sign it as a covenant. And that means any waver, any fault, or any omission has the same weight as the entire covenant breaking.

“Let he who is without sin…” claim to follow through with the above statement.

But, there is good news. Christians don't need to bring animal sacrifices to God (like the ancient Israelites did) for one simple reason: Jesus. He is the ultimate sacrifice. He dies on the cross, replacing the animals, and replacing us. He takes our sins away, and the punishment we deserve. This covers us before and after we sign our covenants, and covers any faults we may make on our end of them.

However, that is not an excuse to take our covenants any less seriously. Romans 6:1-3 says,
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

The commitment of Solidership requires us to not just try to follow a hard set of rules. It's much more than not swearing, drinking or even looking at pornography. It's a lifestyle. It's a witness. It's a choice, every day. It's not just a special outfit you slip into on a Sunday so that people at your church can recognize you. It is much more than that.

It's the decision to live your life completely for God. It's the decision to seek and grow his kingdom with every opportunity.

So how do we do that? In our day to day lives, how can we make our Solidership important?

In everything we have a choice, a choice between life or death. This may seem cliché or exaggerated, but it's true. Our choices will either be towards pleasing God, growing his kingdom and bringing us closer to Him; or will be something that does the opposite (See Proverbs 14:12).

Anything that is done based off of pride, selfishness or greed; is in essence, an act of choosing death. Anything done out of love, mercy, and kindness is an act of life.

When I was in the War College and living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the contrast between these choices was so obvious it was almost as if I was holding onto a coin with these choices on their respective side.

Walking down the street you would see people literally rotting away right before your eyes. Yet, living in the midst of that, and choosing life for myself; was a testament to God's love and grace. Sharing this love in abundance came naturally as a response to this choice of life.

That is why the decision for Solidership also came easily. It allowed a new opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Gave me more opportunities to proclaim God and His Kingdom through what I said and did, on a daily basis, and on a whole new level.

With the responsibilities of the Soldier’s covenant we have a new level of expectations and sacrifices to meet. The only hope we really have in this fight is God’s unshakable mercy and unstoppable grace. Our commitment to serve God and suffering humanity means nothing without the power of God, and modeling His love for those suffering people.

Let us understand that God makes up for where we fail in our covenant and strive to live up to his model of integrity on our end.

William Booth exemplified how we can live up to this same level of integrity when he said: “While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight, I'll fight to the very end!”






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