We are now on the heels of the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which was one of the largest meetings in decades. After all is said and done, it leads to the question, “What happens next?”
Much has been written and spoken about what the SBC must do: maintain theological faithfulness and personal integrity; pursue even better care for the abused and the vulnerable, and prevent such tragedies from ever happening; work together to end abortion; maintain biblical unity among churches; and, of course, take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
I would encourage all Southern Baptists to pray and to consider their part in all these urgent matters. General George Patton, famous for his bold action and audacious actions, was quoted as saying “Always go forward.” That idea has implications for churches today.
Think about Christ’s words about the church, that “the gates of Hell will not prevail it” (Matt. 16:17-19). As many biblical commentators have pointed out, this suggests the church is a force on the offense, not defense. It is a picture of Christ’s followers coming up against the gates of Hell.
The church today, however, seems to have adopted a defensive, instead of an offensive mindset. We see it in other various denominations, as in our own. We see it in the decline in evangelism and baptisms. We see it when we consider even the fearful tone of our rhetoric. Perhaps what is behind this is that we have taken our eyes off of Jesus, that we have let our love grow cold.
Now, I do not expect that merely one annual meeting, one officer election, or one speech—or certainly one article—alone will change our mindset or posture for every single person. But each of us can take this moment to consider the outcomes of our lives.
What about you? Have you spent more time worrying and less time praying? Have you spent too much time on social media and too little time sharing Jesus with people around you? Have you stopped moving forward in your walk with Christ?
If I am honest, I can say I have failed so often to do the right thing in these scenarios. Jesus warned us about being critical of the speck in our neighbor’s eye and missing the plank in our own (Matt. 7:4). If we are not careful, we will spend all our time finding flaws in other people and other things that we will not see clearly our role in advancing the Gospel.
C.S. Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
On the heels of a great SBC meeting—one that was historic in so many ways— let’s ask God to give us humility in place of pride. Let’s ask God to cleanse us of sin and to better protect the weak. And above all, let’s ask Him to renew our passion for sharing the Gospel with our neighbors and the nations.
Only then will we live lives that are going forward; always going forward.