"Saved to Serve" or "Saved to Save"?
Earlier this year I explored this question in response to a Facebook discussion initiated by Major Stephen Court in my blog post Saved to...?
Last night, in response to Commissioner Floyd Tidd's radio interview with John Cleary on ABC Radio, I rekindled the discussion evoking seemingly polarized views from Salvationists and supporters of The Salvation Army.
Further to my original blog post and last night's responses to this question, I offer the following for further reflection...
Historically, it seems conclusive from statements made by William and Bramwell Booth that the two S's worn on Salvation Army uniforms were intended to mean "Saved to Save." However, theologically and missionally, it seems that some Salvationists are less than convinced, opting for the later adopted meaning "Saved to Serve"; while others settle for a marriage between both, as a demonstration of the integration of the social and spiritual mission of The Salvation Army.
The primary objection that I read about "Saved to Save" is that only Jesus saves! And the general appeal of "Saved to Serve" is that service is our response to God's salvation, pointing people to the saving act of Jesus Christ through our actions. Which view is right? Well, both actually!
It is biblical truth that salvation is an act of God: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
It is equally true that God calls us to do good works in response to His salvation: "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)
Both sides of the discussion affirm these basic biblical truths, however, miss the point of the original question. The question is not about who does what, but what is the fundamental purpose behind what we do. It is really a matter of determining the why behind the what! The who is clear, but the why often gets lost in living out the what.
"Who" - Holy Spirit and The Salvation Army
"What" - Holy Spirit convicts people of sin and points them to Jesus, The Salvation Army serves people in their sin and points them to Jesus.
"Why" - So that they may be saved!
Everything we do in the power of Holy Spirit is so that people may have an encounter with the saving grace of Jesus Christ and be restored to right relationship with their Creator. Therefore, The Salvation Army is a movement of people who have been saved by grace and in faith reach out to a lost and broken world with a message of salvation that is delivered by "serving suffering humanity" so that they too may be saved! We start with our own salvation and lead people towards their salvation.
A "Saved to Serve" ethos fixates on what we do (us), whereas, a "Saved to Save" ethos fixates on why we do it (Jesus). So let us embrace God's intention for The Salvation Army to be a "Saved to Save" people "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2).