This last Monday the Houston Chronicle revealed a three part article basically slamming the Southern Baptist Convention for an abuse of Faith. In their research of over 20 years, talking with Churches, law enforcement, prison systems and victims they uncovered a problem within the SBC.
380 confirmed men and women credibly charged with sexual abuse of around 700 victims. Some who have been convicted of sexual abuse that are still serving in our churches. Some who are in high leadership positions. Presidents of Seminaries, the Convention, those who run our seminary who know and knew about the actions but in many cases have done nothing. The biggest reason nothing has been done is one of the things we fervently cling to as Southern Baptists, the autonomy of the local church. Since we do not have a hierarchy of leadership, the convention cannot come down with rules for us regarding anything specific. So there is no requirement for a background check when a church calls a pastor or a leader of any type.
These accusations are credible documented events. Churches are just accepting volunteers and even paid leaders naively and openly. We are unsuspecting. Yet we are not following our own source documents. Paul tells us in both 1 Timothy and Titus that our leaders are to be above reproach. It has always been my position personally that means all of us. We need to live lives that are above reproach. We are to as Paul writes imitate him as he imitates Christ.
As a convention right now, we are under scrutiny and rightfully so. Why am I addressing this? We must. We have to stop and look at ourselves, we have to examine our hearts and what we do and why. We cannot afford to just say – well that is them and not us, we have to be able to honestly stand and say like Paul did to Timothy – 2 Tim 1:3-4
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,
4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.
This news is heartbreaking. Because this is the first article of three, I have no doubt it is going to get worse. We need to check our own closets and make sure they are in order. We need to make sure we help one another. Please please do not think this means we have to try to delve into peoples lives with fine tooth combs. We have never been called by God to be judges, we have been called to be fruit inspectors and guides, in a very real sense protectors. We walk beside each other, and when necessary we correct people in truth and grace. But we need to do that gracefully. In other words we do not chop people off at the knees and leave bloody stumps in our paths. But we do three things.
Learn; Live; Love
Learn; Live; Love
Lets start with learn. Paul writes to Timothy in his second letter.
2 Timothy 2:15 NASB9515 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Be diligent. The King James says Study. It means to work hard to hasten to hurry, to do the very best you can. You cannot teach what you do not know. What did Jesus spend the three years he was with the disciples doing? Teaching them. In
Matthew 28:19–20 NASB9519 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
He says teach them. Paul writes earlier in the same letter
2 Timothy 2:2 NASB952 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 3:16 NASB9516 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
For teaching and training. You see since it is God’s desire we know Him. It isnt enough to just rest on God knows me. He makes it clear in psalm 139 that He know us. He knows the hairs on our heads, he knows our hearts even when we dont.
Romans 12:1–2 NASB951 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Transformation of your mind is passive here. In other words you are not the one doing it. But the Holy Spirit is. You see what happens is that when you learn about God, he changes your heart into a heart he can use. and He does that so we can learn to live For Him
21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Live what you say.
How we live is the first thing that people see. Worship.
This is the very thing that Elijah was dealing with. One man of God vs 450 false leaders. Baal a false God. People allowed the intrigue of another nations false god in their midst and it corrupted their faith. They let the corrupt views of other infiltrate the holiness of God. They let what started as little stuff interfere with their worship.
One of my favorite seminary classes was Ethics. Dr Leiderbach taught us ethics as worship. He taught us that anything that interferes with your worship pretty much needs to go.
What interferes with your worship. Jesus is clear
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
This is where the thought of a protector comes in. I was once told that I needed to protect my time with the Lord. I was always trying to available to talk with people. To the extent that I did not do my spiritual journals. So I had a grade lowered. I told him I did not care about the grade, I cared about the people and here was the response. If you are always available you are not worth being available. You need to protect your time and your heart so God can influence every part of how you live.
Jesus is clear how we are to address problems. Look at yourself. Address issues in your own life. Be prayed up.
Then If you have a problem with someone go to them. Do not just gloss it over. When you do that your heart becomes bitter. You cannot focus on the things of God because you are upset.
There is a key here. be honest. Be totally open and transparent. I used to go to someone who offended me and instead of telling them when you do this is does this to me, I would apologize to them. Hoping they would get the idea they did me wrong. That my friends is manipulation. We are called to build one another up.
Hebrews 10:24–25 NASB9524 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Let us consider how to build one another up. Encourage. Listen. to one another. Give them room. Do not just assume you are always right.
Everything we do should be out of love. Do we love one another? do people see it?
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.
Do you see that - if you do what I command you. What does this have to do with Missions? God started his mission in the church, long before the New testament. When we take the time to realize our first priority is worship then we can see it better. When we come here to corporately worship, and we see that God is in control, God is sovereign we realize that every part of our time here- pre-service music- to offering- to having food and fellowship is all about Him, all about worship.
We worship God in love because he first loved us. On Mt Carmel as He consumed everything, offerings and false prophets, it was all about love. He loved his people, and He wanted them to not only know it but live by it.
If the Lord is God - serve Him. Regardless of what our church Name is. We serve HIS Name, Jesus not the church name.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Ti 1:3–4.