By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
December 5, 2013
WAKE FOREST — Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Tuesday that they must fight the good fight without looking for a fight.
Using 2 Tim. 2:22-26, Dr. Moore took his audience from facebook to bumper stickers in an analysis of the fleshly need of many to constantly broadcast their identity. He warned that followers of Christ cannot engage in a “venting of outrage” that doesn’t seek to win or persuade others to the Lord, but simply serves as a form of self-expression and branding.
Instead, Moore pointed out, Paul calls Timothy to gentleness, patience and humility.
“One of the problems that we tend to have when we see the word ‘kindness’ is we think of weakness or passivity,” Moore said. “That’s not what kindness is. Or we think that kindness is what we display to those with the same mindset.”
“Paul says to show kindness to your opponents. For the apostles, kindness is not a break from fighting,” he added. “Kindness is how you fight.”
Challenging those in the chapel service to follow Paul’s admonition to “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes,” Moore said everyone has a tendency to get into spats over foolish things that divert them from the main task and that too often people respond in such a way as to protect themselves from personal offense rather than to protect the integrity of the Gospel.
“The people who think you are crazy or bigoted or evil, these people are not your enemies. They are your opponents, perhaps, but not your enemies. The Bible tells us we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and against principalities…,” he said. “We speak to them with truth, with conviction, but with gentleness and kindness because our ultimate goal is not to win an argument.”
Instead, he said, referencing verses 25 and 26, it is to bring the lost to repentance so that they can escape the devil’s snare.
Moore brought the message home by reminding his listeners that the unsaved who cross their paths are not the only ones who have been held captive by the devil. He said Ephesians 2 tells us that all were hiding from the voice of God.
“Some people hide behind Satanism; some people hide behind Hinduism; some hide behind Buddhism; some hide behind Atheism; some hide behind Darwinism; and some hide behind self-righteous but unregenerate Southern Baptist Christianity,” he said. “We all hide somewhere.”
He said what changes people is not usually a strong intellectual argument for the faith, but an encounter in which they hear a personal calling.
“Paul says when you are speaking to a lost person, you are not an argument, you are not a bumper sticker. You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ,” Moore said. “We say everything Jesus told us to say, but we say it the way Jesus said it.”
Rather than Christians wringing their hands or fretting over the ways of the world, he said they should have confident tranquility.
“The one who ought to be outraged, the one who ought to be scared, the one who ought to be venting himself is the one who knows that his time is short,” he said of Satan. “Our time is not short, we have trillions and trillions and trillions of years as the kings and queens of the universe.”
Moore said Christians must speak the truth.
“We speak and we fight and we stand, but we do that with a Christlike manner that recognizes that kindness isn’t weakness, that gentleness isn’t surrender,” he said. “Kindness, gentleness, conviction — that’s war.”