William Booth was born in England in 1829 and died in 1916.
Perhaps his signature achievement was starting and nurturing The Salvation Army. Nowadays, the Army is known almost entirely for its charity work, which would appall The Founder (as Booth is known).
He founded a church, not a charity. True, reaching needy folks and offering them a helping hand always played a significant role, but in Booth’s day, it was a secondary role.
His primary goal was bringing people into the joy and empowerment of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Notice the name, The Salvation Army: An army waging war on evil to make the opportunity of salvation possible.
You don’t win many wars without rigorous training and the passion to put that training to good use. Without either, you have only an imitation of Christianity.
Booth knew this, but he wasn’t in any sort of majority. As usual, the majority missed the big picture.
When asked about the dangers facing the Christian church, Booth replied, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell.”
And, one hundred years later, that’s exactly where we are.
• The Holy Ghost, God’s spirit that guides, comforts and empowers God’s people, sure gets short shrift nowadays. Now Christianity’s all about will power. Which has never been reliable. We need a whole lot more than unreliable will power to be God’s person. We need God power.
• And people feel quite comfortable defining themselves as Christians without knowing what Jesus Christ said, did or directed his followers to do. You can’t be a follower if you don’t have a clue about the leader. Then you’re just following your own ideas, but Jesus is who he is, not who we decide he should be.
• Jesus said we shouldn’t forgive people who have no remorse for their actions, but nowadays people pat themselves on the back for doing just that. They rationalize that they’re doing it for themselves, not the offender. How is that forgiveness? And since the motivation is selfish, what’s all the back-patting about? I guess when you’re leaning on yourself instead of God, that’s about as good as it gets. Albeit not Christian.
• And you’ve probably come across people who think becoming a Christian is a matter of muttering a few “magic” words. Since nothing changes, it’s more like fire insurance than Christianity–which isn’t about words, but about who’s in control of life. If we’re in control, nothing happens. If God’s in control, we become new people. It’s regeneration.
• And politics without any mention of God–except when you need a quick mention to look good–is certainly in style nowadays. We can’t prosper and live at peace without God, but once again, the vanity of will power is front and center.
The French Revolution specifically excluded God, and came to a bad end in quick order. The American Revolution, which occurred at roughly the same time, was committed to God, and flourished for more than 200 years. Now, though, as people who fancy themselves to be sophisticates push harder and harder to get rid of God, we’re going downhill on ice–in any way you want to measure it.
• Finally, nobody’s ever liked the idea of hell, but to get rid of God, you have to get rid of even the idea of hell. What nobody mentions is we don’t go to hell–or heaven–by God’s choice, but by our own. And everybody makes this choice, whether they believe in hell or not.
William Booth passed the prophesy test with a perfect score.
How will we respond?
Will we follow the crowd as it rushes downhill or go on a hunt in the Bible and find the real treasure? That’s the choice before us.
Read about all the ways Bette Dowdell shares her information–about faith, motivation, and health–at http://BetteDowdell.com