While I got on to a Missouri Baptist soapbox just a little bit last week in reacting to England’s Prime Minister’s comments from Sierra Leone, Tony Blair was quite the statesman with this insightful zinger:
"However ferocious the challenges are in this part of Africa, it's better to intervene and try to make a difference than stay out and try to cope with the consequences at a later time.”
The great enemy of change is apathy. Whether moral, political or spiritual—doing nothing is a great temptation to people who see things that need to be different. As God’s people, we are to engage our culture. Proverbs 3:27-28 says: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” Doing good and doing it immediately is a strong teaching of the Bible. It’s inherent in Jesus’ cultural mandate when He says “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of world.”
The temptation is to sit things out. We've all got busy lives. But do we have noble engagments? If all my life is about working, mowing grass and making sure my kid is at baseball practice on time, am I not missing something essential.
Unbelief, homosexual marriage, cloning, biblical illiteracy, abortion, gambling, selfish ambition are just a bit on the issues facing us.
There are always ‘ferocious’ challenges. The sluggard of Proverbs 26 says he cannot go outside because “there is a lion in the street!” Many Christians have embraced this sluggardly spirit and don’t engage our world because they see the problems as “lion-sized”. I suppose that’s why the Alabama clergymen who wrote that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s attack on racism in their state was both “unwise and untimely.”
This is why I have great frustration with our convention (both national and state). On both levels, and Missouri in particular, we are engaging in a battle that is largely unnecessary. Something that should be a family squabble is becoming an all out war. We have lost sight of our common enemy. Our adversary continues to blind the hearts of unbelievers, taking them into eternal hell. He still deceives and entices both our policies and pleasures which too often reflect an antagonism towards godliness.
In a manner of speaking, this is not 1860, this is 1775. In 1860, America survived the carnage of the Civil War because we had no external enemy. But had those regional conflicts been primary during the mid-1770s (and they were present) we would never have defeated Great Britain and attained our independence.
Southern Baptists need to rediscover our enemy. He is not crushed and is far from defeated.