FIRST-PERSON: Why we are where we are
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- We are living in an unprecedented time in America.
The secularists in America had an original goal to see Christianity become extinct from American life. They failed. Then, their desire was that Christians and Christianity would be neutralized. This desire has been met with some level of success. Now, their goal is to see Christianity become silenced in America. Sadly, their intimidating methods have been successful with some Christians, but thankfully ignored by others.
Where we are in America
Consider these things with me today: Lawlessness abounds nationally.
Racial unrest and violence erupt endlessly. Marriage and family are being completely redefined. God’s definition of sexuality is constantly degraded. Killing the unborn is shamelessly accepted or ignored. Arguments about immigration occur constantly.
Simultaneously, biblical authority and infallibility are defiantly mocked. Political promises are repeatedly broken. Religious freedom is continually losing ground. National security is now the #1 conversation in America.
What is the answer? What do we do now? Where is our hope?
Where we are in the world
The world is becoming more dangerous daily and more frightening by the minute. Why?
Iran is becoming more empowered by our own nation. Many across the world are marginalizing Israel. Russia is being ignited and permitted to be a world leader. Syria and Iraq are in disarray. This has resulted in 7 million refugees from these two countries. This stands as the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today.
At the same time, ISIS and Boko Haram are on the move, showing no reserve or retreat. Both are destructive forces in the world. Women are being raped, girls are sold into sex slavery, and Christians are beheaded. The recent destructive and deadly attacks on Paris in mid-November have now placed fear not only in European countries, but also globally. Since a Russian jet was destroyed in October, killing hundreds of people, air travel has changed both nationally and internationally.
Yes, the world is becoming extremely dangerous.
Why we are where we are in America and the world
Why are we where we are in America and across the world? It would be easy to point fingers, but the blame game never leads to anything productive.
It always divides; it never unites. Since we are the church of Jesus Christ, built upon the infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scripture, we need to approach where we are spiritually.
In our world comprised of 7.28 billion people, an estimated 3 billion are regarded as unreached and unengaged with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that to our knowledge, the Gospel has never been known among these people. Some missiologists even believe that to our knowledge, the vast majority of the world has no knowledge of salvation by faith in Christ alone. Therefore, could it be that the world’s condition of lostness is the reason our world is where it is today?
Here at home, of the 322 million Americans, missiologists believe that three out of four do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is a need for the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to be communicated to all persons in America and across the world.
Regardless of what research may report or studies conclude, thankfully, we know that God is always working and knows what we do not. We do know that God is committed to redeeming the world.
America and the world are acting just like they are supposed to: Spiritually lost and in deep need of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. This is why we are where we are in America and the world.
We are where we are in America and the world because so many people are spiritually lost and in deep need of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, back in the Southern Baptist Convention
While all of these realities are undeniably happening nationally and internationally, back in the Southern Baptist Convention, we are facing enormous challenges:
-- We are baptizing fewer people today than in 1948.
-- Seventy-four percent of our 51,094 churches and congregations that comprise our convention are plateaued or declining.
-- We are bringing home 600-800 of our global mission force due to financial challenges.
-- Many pastors and churches are struggling in their own relationships with each other, resulting in disunity and division.
-- In our own convention relationships, pastor-to-pastor and church-to- church, there is more talking about each other than talking to each other. The distrust is disgraceful.
Therefore, in this moment when violence in our nation and world is increasing, the church must rise up, condemning unjust and senseless violence, and resolve to advance the Gospel of peace to every person here and across the world.
Pastors, church leaders, and churches, regardless of what has been said, written or presumed about you, let it go. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Forgive.
Preach and share the Gospel anytime, anywhere with anyone. God will be with you and empower you to do it in His power for His glory.
It is more obvious by the minute that we need a great Spiritual Awakening in America and the world. Therefore, pray, live and lead accordingly.