#34 - The Southern Baptists and Chicago
Recently the Southern Baptists announced they are planning to run a major evangelistic effort in the Chicago area next summer. Continuing their current evangelism efforts, they are planning to target Jews and Muslims there. Many religious leaders and political leaders in Chicago have taken a stand against them doing an evangelistic effort as it will upset the fragile balance among religious entities. Included in this statement against the Southern Baptists efforts was United Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague.
Chicago sounds like an interesting town. Apparently they have reached some sort of religious truce and no one is doing any evangelistic activity. Or at least in the eyes of these religious leaders. I find it hard to believe that the Jehovah's Witnesses are no longer doing door to door witnessing. That students at Moody Bible institute are doing no individual evangelizing. That the Mormons are not sending in their missionaries who are working door to door. That the Gideons are spreading no Bibles in the schools, motels and hospitals. That the members of the Moon church are not selling flowers and pushing their religion. That the other groups that catch us in every other airport are not recruiting at O'Hare airport.
What would Jesus think if he were to appear in Chicago today? I suspect he is not happy with these Christian leaders. They seem to have forgotten what their mission in life is. Yes part of it is to care for the poor, hungry, etc. But more importantly in terms of their soul. Are they really ministering to the souls? Are we only to go to other countries and convert people to Christianity? Do they really think the others are lying low also?
Jesus taught us in Mark 16: 25 "Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all mankind". I have looked again in my Bible and I can find no additional points by Jesus where he said but this does not include Chicago, or Illinois or the United States, or any others points. He was clear to go to ALL the world and to preach to ALL mankind.
The United Methodist Bishop needs to remember the roots of his own denomination. (I am also United Methodist). John Wesley went and preached to the poor and the hungry, but also the poor and hungry in their soul. He did this on the streets of England. The Church of England did not welcome his evangelizing but he was heeding God's call, and a great church (the Methodist) came from his works. I suspect these same leaders from Chicago would have told Wesley to cook it in England.
Would they not welcome Billy Graham or members of team in Chicago? He evangelizes to all who do not know Jesus. Would they tell their own members not to go on mission trips to other parts of the world, such as I did in Brazil last summer, to evangelize people? How can we expect other nations to welcome our missionaries when we do not welcome our missionaries in our own country?
The political leaders need to stay out of this fray. For all the discussions on separation of Church and State, things like this are what our founders did not want the state involved in. They had seen what the Church of England had done in England and in the colonies in not permitting other denominations to exist or punishing those members by making it impossible to succeed in life. The problems Wesley and others ran into in England. The problems that forced many of these religious groups to flea to the American colonies. Groups such as the Quakers, the Puritans, the Baptists, etc.
To the religious leaders in Chicago, I would strongly advise you go back and reread your Bible. Pray and consider what is it that God has called you and the people of Chicago to do. Listen for God's answer. No we are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all called to do our part to spread God's word. Sometimes this is as a financial supporter, cook, computer specialist, builder, driver, encourager, etc. But no where in the scripture does God call us to discourage people form evangelizing in his name.
To the political leaders in Chicago, as a political leader you should not be blocking the Baptists. Look back at our history as a nation. However if you are a Christian, then as a leader among Christians I would urge you to pray and study and do the things I said for the other religious leaders.
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