Friday, August 20, 2004

Believe in the draft?

I was on the radio the other day with a service man (and committed Christian) recently returned from Iraq. He said that he was all in favor of the draft - "I think all young men should have the opportunity to serve their country in a self-sacrificing way."

I said, "What do you think about the church doing the same for mission work?" He raised his eyebrows, quizzically cocked his head (as if he had never thought about such a thing before) and said, "Hmmm."

Know this: other religious traditions aren't wondering about the proposition. They are implementing it. Jonah King says that...

Seventy percent of Church of the Latter-day Saints teens reported religious service involvement, the most among all denominations. Even though they have not yet embarked on their traditional two-year mission by the age of 17, Mormons are taught the importance of service early on, said Latter-Day Saints spokesman Dale Bills. "We involve our youth in service opportunities of many kinds to give them firsthand experience in the joy of helping others," Bills said. "We teach them that God will often meet the needs of others through us; that when we are in the service of others, we are in the service of God."

Serving the country is great. Really great. But serving the Kingdom is greater. Far greater. And the church needs to get the same vision that some in the military service and some in religiously heretical movements already have - service is an expectation. Not an optional extra.

Catherine Booth used to whisper to her children in their cribs: "You have not been sent here for yourselves, you have been sent for others. The world is waiting for you."


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