The phrase ‘the greater good’ is loaded with emotional rhetoric. It calls us to consider the ‘collective’ wellbeing over individual rights and freedoms. But if history is anything to go by—and it is—it is a phrase that has a double meaning.
Historically the misuse of this phrase has been used to impose restrictions and sanctions on people, while espousing freedom and choice. ‘The greater good’ is a noble concept in its purest form, but inevitably the outcomes of the imposition of ‘the greater good’ are often the loss of individual freedoms, particularly for minorities or the vulnerable in our societies.
Jesus Christ lived and presented a completely different paradigm to the philosophy of utilitarianism that underpins ‘the greater good’. In his conversations, confrontations and considerations it was all about the individual. He purported that if you loved and valued the individual, you could change the world. He did, and he still does.
The Salvation Army’s strength lies in the belief that we can make a difference in society by loving and caring for the individuals that come to our corps and centres. If we believe that transformation can happen one person at a time, we are in good company; Jesus did too. He summed up his ministry in his reading of Isaiah in Luke 4:18: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.’
In this edition of War Cry we see the outcomes of this love and care of the individual in the rhythms of grace presented in these pages. These snapshots of ministry and testimony point to the ‘greatest good’, the proclamation of the gospel and the freedom this brings for each of us—one person at a time.
Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Nga Waiata 16:8
Kua waiho tonu e ahau a Ihowā ki tōku aroaro: kei tōku ringa matau nei ia, e kore ahau e whakakorikoria.