Having attended the recent annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Alabama, I wanted to share several thoughts about some of the panel discussions which dealt with several key topics.
The panel about Sexual Abuse Awareness & Prevention was an important conversation. If we would simply abide by the words we preach in our pulpits and exhibit a Christian lifestyle in our churches, we would not be in the situation we find ourselves.
Then there was the discussion on the role of women in ministry. This conversation was less explosive than it could have been, largely because every pastor knows without the faithfulness of women in our churches, we would be nowhere. There still is such a word as co-laborers when it comes to sharing the Gospel.
There also was a panel discussion on how we should move toward racial reconciliation. To talk about a needed direction is great. At some point, that discussion must be further progressed by moving in the direction that was talked about. If it stops at discussion, then it is just talk until action is performed.
While at the SBC, I reflected on the fact that the meeting took place in Birmingham—the city Martin Luther King, Jr. said, more than 50 years ago, was the most segregated city in America—as the largest Protestant denomination in the world, we were still having to discuss how to get over its past and move into the commandment to, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
It was sobering to think that we were discussing racial equality just a few blocks from the place where, tragically, police dogs and fire hoses were turned on African Americans who were marching to be granted the same rights as everyone else.
This reminded me that all the talk in the world cannot help, apart from action.
Together we have come a long way. Yet we still have a long way to go, and we will only gain racial equality when we draw closer together spiritually. I believe we will come closer together, as one in the Body of Christ, when we do not try to make everyone be the same, when we embrace other people’s differences.
The time is now to stop merely talking; it is time to work together, arm in arm, toward racial reconciliation.
This is not a black-against-white issue. It is a darkness of the world against the light of Christ issue. It’s the sin of exclusion against the inclusion of salvation to all. That is the heart of the issue before us.
It’s time for all God’s people—no matter the ethnicity or the color of our skin; no matter Jew or Gentile—to put the past in the past and shout from the roof tops “God is God!”
The time is now to stop talking about loving one another and to start truly loving one another.
The sad fact is, the stain of racism and bigotry was present even in the biblical times. Jesus Christ encountered it as He went about offering salvation.
They first asked “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The Samaritans hated Him because of His Jewish linage. The Jews, His own people, hated Him and had Him crucified because He chose to help all who were in need.
Perhaps it’s time for us to remember that old song we use to sing, in Sunday school, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, yellow, black, or white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”