Ever have the sneakin' suspicion that the preacher’s message is aimed right at you?
It happened to me on Sunday but not necessarily because he had me in mind (or maybe he did?) I was in-person at our church service that was being livestreamed. My wife and I were practically front-row Baptists (is there such a thing?) as Gary Arrington delivered the message from the pulpit at Unity Baptist Church.
We weren’t the only ones in the large sanctuary, but we were front and center, so I caught his eye more than once (I did try to AMEN a little more than usual). The rest of the musicians who led the early part of the service were scattered along the sides. So my wife and I were hidden in plain sight.
It was a terrific message and it was aimed at me and you and so many others. It’s too bad it was a livestream day because our church specifically, and any Christian generally, could have learned from it. I wish we could have had a full house, but weather concerns kept that from happening. Hopefully, many did hear it online or will go back and listen to what he had to say.
Gary is a retired pastor who has never really retired, filling in pulpits throughout northeastern Kentucky. Rest assured, he’s got plenty of gas in the tank. He and Paul Badgett, the east region consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, are sharing the pulpit at Unity as we search for a pastor. We are blessed to have these two great men of God preaching for us every week.
Gary’s message Sunday was especially pertinent. He spoke on unity – not the church but the idea. As the entire world seems divided on any number of issues, and as people on social media keep our many divisions stoked with posts full of hatred, we fall in line with them. But why are Christians so divided with each other?
We should be the most together people anywhere. We have something in common – a belief in Jesus Christ – but sometimes you wouldn’t know it by our actions. As believers, we shouldn’t be the example of division. We should be unified more than anybody, working together for the common cause of leading others to Christ. We need each other for strength and encouragement. Division brings none of that.
In the message he said as believers we have a central focus in Jesus and that should unify us. We have the same Savior and are going to the same Heaven because we belong to the same Father. How true.
How disappointed the Lord must be when His children fight with each other, wasting time that should be devoted to sharing Him with others?
Satan delights in division. He’s the author of all that divides us. He uses everything he can find to divide us – politics, masks, the weather, and, maybe the most alarming of all, each other.
Social media has made us all so bold, so opinionated, that we fail to remember our primary task as believers. We are to share the gospel with a lost and dying world. Arguing with someone on social media will not bring them to your political, social, or religious point of view and it may vanquish any hope you ever had of leading them to the Lord.
So be careful. And be careful with fellow believers, even those who may have hurt you. If you disagree with them, do it in love. Go to them. Talk to your brother or sister. You may find you’re not really that far apart. Let me be clear: I’m not preaching to anybody but myself.
Who knows? Maybe Sunday’s message was meant for an audience of one. I suspect, though, I was not alone.
MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org