Yeats: Conviction and compassion

This year’s Missouri Baptist Convention Worldview Conference was an extraordinary experience. Because it was held on the campus of Hannibal-LaGrange University, many students engaged in thought-provoking dialogue with the program personalities and participants.

I’m encouraged by the thirst of the next generation to learn about engaging the culture from a faith perspective.

One of the takeaways from the conference was the message from every speaker about the value of speaking and living truth with simultaneous conviction and compassion.

When I was given the opportunity to speak, I shared that the church must live according to the absolutes of God’s Word. They produce peace in our hearts, holiness in our practice, and passion in our evangelism and disciple making. That is an extraordinary challenge as Western culture continues to marginalize convictional followers of Christ.

When you take an honest look at our history and its founding documents, there is clear evidence that our nation was founded on biblical absolutes. Yet, over the course of the last century we have so bowed to the false god of moral relativism that our borders are no longer safe havens for goodness and respect.

Sadly, our cultural attitudes toward God have flung open the doors to the forces of unspeakable evils that damage freedoms, families and the next generation.

So much of the pain in our nation is the result of our personal and cultural response to the truths in God’s Word. We have stiff-armed the principles of God’s Word and opted for something that placates the political correctness of our times.

It is important that we study the pattern of Jesus. Doesn’t He perpetually point people to the truth about who our God is? The reality of the Christian worldview is that His truth permeates every aspect of our lives – our finances, our relationships, our sexuality, our parenting, our business, our politics, our missions/evangelism.

I once corresponded with the leader of a formidable para-church ministry. His goal, his mission, the reason he wrote resources to train children, was to plant the truth in their hearts. I could not agree more. But I asked, “to what end?”

Are we not to be training disciples, even our own children, to become godly leaders in and through the local church to transform the world with the gospel? From a biblical perspective, we do not train them to become new soldiers in a para-church ministry with only one goal in mind no matter how effective that ministry might be.

We must never forget that an authentic Christian worldview is fully orbed. It is to be lived out as holy people though local churches to demonstrate godly character, loyalty, stewardship, holiness, missions and above all else love for a lost and dying world.

You mean, a worldview whereby the Christian life is more than a spiritual selfie? Yes! You mean, a Christian life that actually trains people to get along with one another and to be living examples of positive relationships and moral respect toward others? Yes!

That is called “Churchmanship” – a lost art in my generation where I fear too much “church life” is a work of the flesh than something born of the Spirit.

The New Testament and its impact on cultures teach us that the Church of the Lord Jesus is the people of God living out His purposes, His mission. The Church of the Lord Jesus is to be comprised of ‘fessed up, cleaned up, prayed up and spirit- filled believers. This kind of church is the most powerful force on this planet to stop the spread of extreme ideologies at work in today’s culture.

Like never before we must take the good news to the ends of the earth and into the dark streets of the population centers of our nation. We must proclaim it in word and deed.

Since we are not omnipresent, we work with others to accomplish these worthy biblical ideals. That’s one of the things I love about the Cooperative Program (CP).

Recently I visited with a lady in one of our rural churches. She just didn’t have her brain wrapped around CP. I shared with her that by giving to her church and her church participating in CP, she was part of the ministry of missionaries in every time zone of the planet.

At the same time, she was part of the ministry of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, where we have the largest private network of foster care families. We have an adoption agency. We have two crisis pregnancy centers. And she was part of the ministry of two universities training professionals with a Christian worldview. She was part of every ministry.

She said, “I didn’t know that.” At the same time, she was part of coordinating Disaster Relief efforts in the Philippines, starting new churches and helping churches set a strategy for their future ministries. All of that is happening at the same time in this hostile world and in this culture.

We have to get the word out about all that we do together for the cause of the gospel that is both Christ-centered and compassion-oriented.