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Meeting the criteria

Flags are common standards in The Salvation Army, but all are flown under the banner of love.

We live in a world that seems obsessed with standards.

When you go for a job, you must meet certain ‘eligibility criteria’ standards.

When you apply for entry into a selective high school or some university courses, you must sit for some exams to see if you are up to a certain standard.

If you want to join a professional music group, you generally have to audition to see if you are up to the standard required to play in the orchestra or sing in the choir.

When you meet your girlfriend’s father for the first time, he will attempt to gauge whether you are up to his standard.

When you join a sports team or almost anything else, you must live up to a certain standard.

Many times in life, we see opportunities and improvements offered to people who meet these standards. I met the standards of my father-in-law (eventually) and was given permission to marry the greatest blessing of my life.

A friend of mine was able to live up to the standards required for a Master of Education degree and was given a promotion as a result. Another friend was able to play a high standard of rugby league, was invited to play on a semi-professional team, and now gets paid to play.

We are so conditioned to think this way that we sometimes think that God operates in the same way. We are tempted to think we can only receive God’s blessing, attention or acceptance when we meet a certain standard.

Banners and flags

However, another definition of the word ‘standard’ is a banner or flag. Particularly, a ‘standard’ is a banner or flag used to identify someone or a group of people. In a military parade, a ‘standard’ is carried at the front of a group to identify them. In The Salvation Army, we have flags that identify which part of the Salvos you’re a part of.

In a throne room or banquet hall, standards are hung to identify those who sit beneath them. In a very poetic part of the Bible, God’s love for us has been described as a banner, or a standard, being flown above us to identify us as people who are loved by God (Song of Solomon 2:4).

“You will never live up to a perfect standard, but you can live beneath one.”

So, while the Bible does teach us that, in the words of the great philosopher Hannah Montana, Nobody’s Perfect, that’s not where it ends. Sure, we are not perfect, but God already loves us, and what he did for us proves it. We simply need to accept the love of God; simply sit beneath the banner of love flown for us by Jesus.

In other words – you will never live up to a perfect standard, but you can live beneath one.


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