Look Like Heaven: Unity Around Jesus
June 19th, 2017 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments
A resolution was passed in the last session of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix where messengers once again voiced their affirmation of the dignity of all human beings. Resolution #10 was a call to oppose the "Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy." Praise God for clarity by the SBC. It is inconceivable that anyone with the Spirit of Christ within them would seek to dehumanize another person on the basis of race, religion or any other qualifier.
In regard to African-Americans in particular, the founding of the SBC is an unimaginable hurt. The SBC was founded due to controversy concerning sending missionaries who were slave owners. For almost a century afterward many Southern Baptists were a part of repressing African-Americans. Steps have been taken in recent years to show true repentance in the present.
In 1995 the SBC messengers made a clear statement of repentance for the historic acts of evil such as slavery and racism. While specifically addressing the horrific practices toward African-Americans, it began to bring greater awareness of the need to keep our hearts directed in love toward all people. The Baptist Faith and Message (2000), in Article 15, added a statement that racism should be opposed. Opposing racism is more than calling out the bad; it is a clarion for us to be active agents for change.
The SBC elected Fred Luter the first African-American president of the convention in 2012. Resolutions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 addressed the vigilance needed in rejecting racism in any form. These resolutions emphasized the primacy of the gospel and the evil of racism. Words are needed but action is better. This year the first African-American was elected president of the Pastors’ Conference. The 2017 Committee on Nominations was comprised of the most ethnically diverse group ever. It takes intentionality on the part of all to move toward a fully racially inclusive Southern Baptist Convention.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has attempted to be a leader in promoting gospel equality. Rudy Hernandez was the second president of the SBTC. Pastor Terry Turner of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church was the first African-American elected president of the SBTC. He led us to establish July as “Look Like Heaven” month. Churches are encouraged to cross cultural, linguistic and racial barriers to worship our Lord together. African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians serve on the SBTC Executive Board. The SBTC staff reflects the same broad representation. Not just diversity but inclusive unity around the Lord Jesus Christ is the desire.
Unfortunately, we live in a climate of hostility. Civil debate in the public square is almost impossible. Rather than being a thermostat to change the culture, believers are often thermometers reflecting the culture. It is time for us to not just voice our disdain for overt racism in resolutions but to put in practice our love for all people. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the change agent that can make that happen. Keep telling the old, old story. One day people from every nation, language, and race will stand before the Lamb. If we are going to be there for eternity together, we need to have the Spirit of God enable us to love one another while we are here. Let’s make it “Look Like Heaven.”