Archive for the 'America' Category
There is not any one spiritual leader who has the inside track on the spiritual state of our nation in 2017. I am but one American pastor, but I would like to share from my eyes and heart the spiritual state of our nation in 2017.
Division Increases While Polarization Deepens
Division continues to increase in America while polarization deepens. Our nation is deeply polarized around differing worldviews, diverse political opinions, and by a proud, arrogant zeal to fight against one another. It is indisputable that threats against our national security still greatly exist, violence continues to erupt against one another endlessly, racial tensions are continually rising, and human life continues to be devalued daily. All the while, we are seeing human rights both idolized and deified.
Though Fear Grips, Faith Lives
America is a nation gripped with fear. Many in our nation fear the future, fear what America is becoming, and fear the outcomes of decisions being made today. While some fear where we may be going, others are equally fearful of what may happen if we do not take radical actions now. Simultaneously, faith lives in the hearts of many regarding our future because some decisions are addressing things that have been neglected for decades.
Church Responds Rather Than Leads
While all of these things and more are going on in America, the American church has become more responsive to our current situation rather than providing proactive leadership to America during this time. The church is not here to reflect the American culture, but to impact the American culture; even to the point of creating a unique path that is set forth by biblical authority, made clear with divine purpose, and focused on finishing our God-ordained assignment to make disciples of all the nations. As the church leads, we need to lead with love, not from the outside in, trying to impress the world, but from the inside out because it is who we genuinely are.
As I have recently stated, I believe people change the world.
Now What? We Must Rise to Action!
So, what is the actual spiritual state of our Union? The answer is both simple and similar.
We need to repent, come back to God, and put our trust in God alone. America needs a Great Spiritual Awakening.
We need to come together as a nation.
We need to refuse to be pulled apart by our carnal nature and egotistical pride. We need the church to refuse division within our family over tertiary matters so we can have the public integrity as one family to speak to and lead our nation in fundamental and central matters that are of far greater importance to the health of our nation.
We need to resolve that we will not walk in the same steps as this world; but the steps we take should be in the same footprints of our Sovereign God who orders our steps and loves us unconditionally.
We need to pray like it all depends on God, because in reality, I believe it does; but at the same time, find ways to work together like it all depends on us. By the way, thank God it does not depend on us.
Even while the prophet Jeremiah informed the people of God they would be in exile experiencing the judgment of God for seventy years in the godless nation of Babylon, God intervened to tell them through Jeremiah the words recorded in Jeremiah 29:11-13,
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
God speaks; enough said.
Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
To request an interview with Dr. Ronnie Floyd
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During my 2014-2016 tenure as president of our nation’s largest body of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, we adopted a resolution “On Refugee Ministry.”
Recognizing the global mass displacement of people — in particular the Syrian refugee crisis — and our denomination’s history of caring for the sojourner, we resolved to encourage America’s 15 million Southern Baptists to serve and minister to refugees who come to the United States.
Furthermore, we affirmed that “refugees are people loved by God, made in His image, and that Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands.”
To us, loving refugees was an unquestionable matter of Christian faith. It wasn’t about whether we agreed or not with President Obama’s policies on refugee resettlement and immigration. As Christians, we understood the ancient biblical mandate to love the foreigner in our land.
Yet, amidst these resolutions of compassion and care, we also inserted a clause asking our nation’s leaders “to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm.”
Why did we do this?
The government determines who gets in the country, and the church serves those who do.
Making policies in the interest of the national welfare, especially in relation to protecting the American people, is the government’s job. Christians must honor and respect our elected officials as they do so. Yet, some Christians in recent days have treated America like a theocracy arguing that it is the government’s job to serve refugees.
It is the church’s job, and while the government might choose to serve refugees they have no theological mandate to do so in the way the church does. It’s the government’s first job to protect our nation, and it’s the church’s job to serve the world.
The apostle Paul affirmed this. In his letter to the early Christians living in Rome, the epicenter of the Roman Empire, he said, “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason.”
Peter, a leader of the first church and one of the original followers of Jesus, goes as far as to say that submitting to government is part of God’s will for Christians in presenting a good testimony to those around them.
Even Jesus, in his unique and pithy style of teaching, instructed his disciples to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He also reminded his disciples — perhaps especially Peter, a quick-draw zealot ready to start a rebellion at a moment’s notice — that his kingdom was “not of this world.”
Jesus, Peter, and Paul were rewiring the early church’s way of thinking. In a world concerned with who are the movers and shakers, they were telling them that the church marches to the beat of a different drum. While emperors, presidents, and prime ministers might change policy with the flick of a pen, the millennia-old calling of loving one’s neighbor remains as consistent today as the day Jesus first uttered those words. And this calling transcends time, language, borders, and any executive order signed by any American president.
As our country faces some of the biggest changes in refugee policy in decades, it’s important for the church to remember that her mission is not contingent on what happens at the White House. Nor, should the church attempt to force our Christian theology on our government.
We should always raise our voices in defense of the poor, the broken, and those in need, and do everything in our power, as citizens, to urge our representatives to make compassionate decisions to ease the suffering of those fleeing violence and persecution. But we should also have humility to know our place and their place.
The government decides who gets in; the church serves those who do.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church and the Immediate Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Follow him on Twitter @ronniefloyd. The opinions expressed in this piece are his alone.
This article was originally published by the Washington Times on March 2, 2017