Allow me a moment to defuse that flashy title. Nothing I’m about to write is meant as an attack on Ronnie Floyd. In fact, my hopes would be that if he read this article he’d give it a hearty amen. We also must acknowledge that we are at a watershed moment within the SBC. Who we are as a convention, I believe, will be determined by our response to this cultural moment. And Ronnie Floyd serves in a key position within our convention as CEO of the Executive Committee. Whether through action or inaction, he will play a part in the future of the SBC. And that future for the SBC is a question mark. The movement of the kingdom of God, however, is not.
I’ve always appreciated this summation of what God is doing in the world:
We have gotten a glimpse of what God’s great purpose is for the world, namely, to fill this world with his glory (Numbers 14:21), by rooting out of his kingdom all sin and unbelief (Matthew 13:41), and filling it with white-hot worshipers (Revelation 3:15) from every people, tongue, tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). In the seed of Abraham, all families of the earth will be blessed. All the families of the nations will worship before the Lord.
Part of that “sin and unbelief” will be toppling structures and systems of abuse. We have not done well within the SBC in regards to issues of race and we have been deplorable in our handling of sexual abuse. Far too many times we’ve stood with the abusers, the powerful, the strong, the insiders, and those deemed worthwhile. And we’ve done this against the vulnerable, the abused, the outsiders, those who’ve been traumatized. Countless times we’ve decided to “believe a reassuring lie than an utterly inconvenient and disturbing truth.” (Langberg, 81) We’ve marginalized, discounted, and silenced the voices of those we’ve perceived as a threat to our system.
We’ve done much of this in the name of the Great Commission and calls for revival. We silence for the sake of “unity”, so we can be about the business of winning souls for Jesus. We organize revival meetings, prayer services for revival, pamphlets on praying for our nation, fasts were we’ve pleaded with God to move among us, and all the while we’ve been hesitant to wipe blood off our hands. Just as those of Isaiah’s day we’ve reacted to the burning of our cities by calling for revival and increasing our organizational sacrifices. But just as in the time of Isaiah we’ve been mostly met with silence from heaven–as our baptism numbers continue to decline along with our church attendance.
In Isaiah’s day their fervent prayer was nothing more than a noisy gong. Their trampling of the courts did nothing to move the heart of God but only stirred up even more indignation. What God was after was real authentic change–even systemic change. He lays out the plan for them. (Isaiah 1:16-17) He essentially says, “You want revival?!?, you really want your land to be healed? Okay…cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
The gospel IS the answer. And Christ CAN and does heal and remove blood-stained hands by the power of His own. BUT that cleansing isn’t for those using religiosity to keep bloody power. “Heal me, even if it means I lose every ounce of power.” That is the cry for revival that we need. It’s what I’m praying for in my own heart and hoping to see happen within our SBC. That’s what Isaiah 1:18-20 means. Healing and real revival comes to those who are appalled by their own bloody hands and want real redemption. Real revival doesn’t come to those who want revival as a means to keep their way of life.
God is bringing revival. He is toppling every human system that stands opposed to his kingdom work. He will rescue the vulnerable. He will plead the widow’s cause. He will bring justice to the earth. These are certainties. He will bind up the brokenhearted. He will wipe away every tear. He will heal every wound. These also are certain.
And he doesn’t need Ronnie Floyd to do it.
I don’t say that as a dig on Ronnie Floyd. I’d be happy to supply my own name, though I do not sit in a seat of power within the SBC. I say this as an encouragement. There is a ton of pressure on him as CEO of the Executive Committee. He has warring factions on both sides. There is at present a fight for the soul of the SBC. He probably has friends on both sides. That has to be taxing. He cannot choose inaction. To do nothing is to do something. Calling upon us to shift our focus away from these “fights” is calling upon us to turn away from the pleas of those who have been abused and are calling upon us to fight for them. I say this as an encouragement. Standing with the vulnerable and against the sinful structures within our SBC is to stand with Jesus.
I also say this as an encouragement to the vulnerable among us. If the CEO of our EC decides to use his position to do nothing and call upon others to not act, all is not lost. Even if he chooses to actively oppose and silence the vulnerable, this will not determine the trajectory of the kingdom of God. Again, God is bringing this revival and he doesn’t need Ronnie Floyd to do it.
I’m praying, and I’m trusting God, that he will move within Ronnie’s heart and he will choose the path of action. I’m praying that he will stand with the vulnerable. That he will hear the plea of women like Jennifer Lyell. That he will do whatever is necessary, even if it means sacrificing his own power, in order to fight for those who’ve been discarded by our beloved system. That’s my prayer.
It is powerful that in one of Jesus’ last sermons he turns his back against the temple and curses the fig tree. It was supposed to be bearing fruit. It was supposed to be providing nourishment. But it was advertising a lie. The SBC is supposed to be about the kingdom of God. We are supposed to be good news people. The Great Commission isn’t just about telling sinners that they can escape hell. The Great Commission is fundamentally an Isaiah 61 work. It’s good news! It’s doing good and not evil, it’s seeking justice, correcting oppression, bringing justice. It’s fighting for the vulnerable. That is not part of our Great Commission work it is our Great Commission work. Binding up the broken-hearted certainly means seeing people experience real gospel healing through repentance and faith which leads to union with Christ. But the good news of this union with Christ is far-reaching.
I close with this prayer from Diane Langberg:
May you and I be those who see the killing fields and the souls that lay there, that we have put there. May we stand in the light of God’s killing tree, knowing that by his blood we are blessed to be part of the ungiven. May we use our power to work to bring in and care for those who have been sent away to die. May we have the humility to acknowledge our wrong choices and decisions that have damaged precious souls. We have done damage by our actions as well as by our inaction and our ungodly silence. May we be those out to the fields looking for the lambs who have been wounded by the wolves dressed as sheep and like our Lord carry them to safety and a refuge from which they will never be given. (Langberg, 198)
You don’t need Mike Leake for revival. But I certainly want to be one of those out looking for these precious lambs.
Read Diane Langberg’s book here: Redeeming Power https://amzn.to/3aFoOsK