On Sunday evening I will be traveling to Dallas, TX for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am going as a messenger of West Canton Baptist Church. I am going as a young pastor in the SBC. I am going as a product of Southern Baptist schools. I am going as one who desires to be a part of the convention, and one who wants to makes a difference.
This year's annual gathering will prove to be no less than a historic year for the convention. There are several contributing factors for this; all ranging from the expected report from last years appointed Evangelism Task Force, to the election of a new convention president, to the recent unexpected events surrounding the termination of one of our entity heads, Dr. Paige Patterson. I cannot sufficiently bring you up to speed on all that is going on in our convention, but I do want to make some observations for you. (See the links below to get a better understanding of events).
Dr. Patterson has rightly been considered a hero in the SBC for his leadership efforts during the convention battle known now as the conservative resurgence. Dr. Patterson has been a staple of our convention and a staple at our annual meetings. I would dare say that there are very few pastors in the SBC that have ever even experienced a convention meeting without hearing Dr. Patterson's iconic voice or seeing his legendary cowboy boots. This truth emphasizes the fallibility of every single man or woman of God, and it further serves to teach us that no single individual, no matter how valuable that person has proven to have been , is indispensable. None of us ever become untouchable. Sin plagues all of humanity.
I was reminded of this truth in our text this past Sunday. Eli's sons were steeped in sin and corruption, and this was no secret. Eli had heard the report of their sinful behavior (1 Sam. 2:22-24). I do not believe that they were trying all that hard to hide their sin from their father, but do you remember Achan in Joshua 7, or Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5? These folks did try to hide their sin, and they discovered that it is not possible to hide sin from the Creator of the Universe, and they subsequently discovered just how serious God takes sin. I have been challenged by this truth coupled with the revelation of sin within our own convention. I've been challenged to freshly examine my own life for any sin that I might be trying to cover up, and I extend the same challenge to you. I admonish you to confess your hidden sins and repent of them. If you do not, they will eventually surface. Do what Achan and Ananias and Sapphira all had the opportunity to do, but failed to do; confess your sins. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9)."
I also want go on record and say that abuse (physical, mental, sexual, or emotional) is wrong, and is sin. While it is sin that ought to be confessed to the Lord by the abuser, it is also criminally wrong and should be reported by the victim, or by anyone with knowledge of the crime, to the proper authorities. When you know you become obligated to act on your knowledge. Appropriate counseling and therapy should be made available for victims. Whether a pastor, a president, a professor, a staff person, or a lay person, we all have a responsibility and an ethical obligation to report criminal activity to the appropriate authorities.
I am asking you as cooperating SBC church, and as your pastor, to pray for our convention. Pray specifically over the next several days for the glory of God to be manifest amongst the messengers and leaders of the convention meeting. Pray that our convention would be reconciled to God and would continue to be a witness of the gospel of Jesus in the darkness of our culture. Pray that in days to come our convention grows stronger and emerges from these trials stronger than we’ve ever been. I look forward to being able to report back to you the various ways we see God work next week!
Links for further information: