By now most of you have heard that the Southern Baptist Convention is being investigated by the United States Department of Justice. This investigation is a result of the Sexual Abuse Task Force report that was presented at the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim this year. The Messenger made resolutions to establish procedures to correct abuses, compensate victims and establish accountability for churches and clergy.
We live in a very difficult changing culture. We are all affected by the worldview, values [or lack thereof] morality and criminal behavior that is seemingly allowed to go uncontested or restrained. We always hear that “we are to be in the world but not in the world.” John 16:33 says “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
There are countless passages in scripture that talk of difficult days for the church and the believer. At such a time when the church body should be strengthen itself, the opposite appears to be true. We live in a fallen world; I am a fallen man. There is no one without sin.
There have been times in history when the Church fought against issues, beliefs and evil. At times the Church was the evil being done. I am concerned that instead of bring glory to the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ; we are bringing reproach to the Gospel and the Name of Jesus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of us in some way. We must come to the realization that “we” cannot go back to a pre-Covid-19 time. Everything has changed. The Church has been exposed for its failing to pursue the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20]. The Lost are still lost. Churches and people have become institutionalize. I have tried to convey to our churches and pastors, we must not look at how to go back, but how we can go forward!
Please understand me, I know there are many places where the Gospel is proclaimed and lives that are a glorious testimony of the love of Jesus. However, for the majority of Christendom, it is in decline. Attendance in down 25-35% across all denominations. More and more the unredeemed have an animosity towards religion and the Church. I read recently where a library in the Midwest removed the Bible because it was considered offensive.
It is one thing for the world to act like it does, quite another for the Church of Jesus, the Bride of Christ to “look the way she does!” I was appalled at the 288-page report that exposed the sexual abuse that has been allowed to go unchecked. Even more broken when I read the names of the SBC Executive Committee and past presidents of our denomination named in that report. SBC has 47,000 churches, and a second report shared a 700-name database of clergy who had been charged and investigated for sexual abuse, and nothing done, but being allowed to move to another church. These things must not be so!!!
I have witnessed more works of the Flesh [Galatians 5:19-21] than I have Fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] in the Church. We could easily give the excuse that it is just the Latter Days, the culture is responsible, it’s the politics and the Media’s fault. No, a thousand times No. We are without excuse! It is our watch. Judgment begins at the House of God.”
The Gospel cannot be soft sold; salvation cannot be an afterthought in a sermon. The Gospel must be preached and lived out by those who profess it. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his Epistles to correct and admonish the behavior in 1st century churches. You have heard that “The World is going to Hell in a hand-basket.” But it cannot be going there in a basket the Church is carrying!
The night is far spent, it is time for the Righteous of God to stand up and take a stand. For if we neglect so great a task before us – then who will win the Lost? It is time to put away our petty differences and conflicts. Eternity is too long, and the need is too great for the Church to sit idly by and do nothing.
I realize this is a hard message, but if not us, then who? If not now, then when? It is imperative that we BE the Church, not just go to church.