A Covenant of Service
Officers commit to “…serve him completely…” through their ministry and outreach. The Salvation Army is best known for its service to communities and helping those in need. As part of the Officer’s Covenant, the officer sacredly promises to “…care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked…” Though not an exhaustive list of the services The Salvation Army offers, this list shows that our mission includes “…meet[ing] human needs in [Christ’s] name…”
In my opinion, the most important word in this portion of the Covenant is the word “care”. Through everything, we desire to show care to those who have often been forgotten by society. We want to give worth and dignity to those who have been cast aside. We want to bring hope into the lives of broken families. It is through our compassion and care that we show the love of Jesus Christ as we meet their basic needs. The Salvation Army has been specially called to reach the marginalised – it is who we have been since the very beginning. Our ministry is a mission of care.
The phrase “…feed the hungry…” represents our work to provide the essential needs of people in our communities. This can include food, clothes, shelter, medicine, etc. Through our caring and our assistance, we open the door to sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we minister to. As I said in the last post, every part of our service is geared towards proclaiming the gospel and saving souls.
I believe the phrase “…clothe the naked…” can represent our work to bring dignity to those we help. May the Lord correct us if we begin to strip our clients of the dignity they deserve! No one should feel shame coming in our doors. We want to treat each and every person as if they were our congregant, our highest donor, or even our family member. We must recognize that we do not always understand the circumstances surrounding their need. In our mission statement, we declare that we “…meet human needs in his name without discrimination.” Thus, we must treat each person with dignity and respect as a human being. This is also our demonstration of care and love to them.
A Covenant of Love
How challenging it is to “…love the unlovable…” We all know some people that can be difficult to love. Officers are called to a high standard of loving those that others do not love. With missional eyes, we must see those who have been cast aside. With a missional heart, we should be drawn to those who have been rejected. With a holy love, a love that can only come through God’s strength and love, we care for those who have not been shown the love they deserve. Through our love, we demonstrate the love of God and his desire to be in a relationship with that individual. We show that they have not been forgotten and that there is always someone who loves them – the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the same way, we are to “…befriend those who have no friends…” Officers are relationship people. We have relationships with advisory board members, donors, volunteers, employees, soldiers, adherents, kids, clients, etc. We are called as caring ministers to seek out those who are alone and build a relationship with them. There seems to be a trait amongst officers that draws them to those who are by themselves. The officer is drawn to the man sitting at lunch by himself, the child sitting in the corner of the gym, or the teenager sitting by herself in the back of the chapel. Those are the people who often need the gentle smile, the warm hello, and the friendly conversation. It is through those simple actions that the person can feel loved, befriended, and cared for.
Through all this, officers serve the Lord and desire to see souls saved. Officers are in the caring business – we care about their souls, we care about their needs, we care about their dignity, and we care about their relationships. We care because Jesus Christ cared for us. He saw us, he saved us, and he loved us. That is why we care.