“The world is watching” became the unofficial motto of last month’s Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. From what I’ve heard, the phrase hampered attempts to challenge any worldly ideas that came across the floor. In particular, it stopped any debate on Critical Race Theory. The logic went that, because the world is watching, we must take care not to offend its sensibilities. This short video from Founders Ministry explains (among other things) why these four words betray a worldliness within the SBC leadership.
But “the world is watching” didn’t originate with SBC21. When John and I were in a seeker sensitive church several years ago, we often heard them from the pulpit. At the time, I understood them to mean that, because non-Christians observe us, Christ expects us to live in ways that reflect Him. So far, so good.
So when I’ve seen those four words on social media, I’ve generally been convicted to conduct myself in a manner which honors the Lord. In disagreements, I’ve learned not to attack anyone’s character. Name calling is never permissible — Jesus occasionally employed that tactic, but He could see the hearts of the people He called names. As best I can, I want to argue with respect and kindness on social media. In that context, we certainly should bear in mind that the world is watching.
Sadly, it appears that the awareness of a watching world now means that Christians ought to accommodate worldly ideas. And I don’t think this posture is unique to the SBC, So, regardless of your church affiliation, I’d like you to think with me about the implications of the motto.
If you use “the world is watching” as a reason to conform Christianity to contemporary standards, you might want to brush up on Romans 12:1-2. Why would a Christian have a desire to fit in with the world on any level? James made a very pointed statement to professing Christians who tried to cozy up to the world:
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? ~~James 4:4 (NASB95)
Sisters, you want to be a winsome testimony to non-Christians (see 1 Corinthians 1031-33), but not in ways that take the edges off of the Gospel. Unnecessary offense is detrimental to the cause of Christ, but so is tweaking the Gospel to make it more palatable (see Galatians 1:8-10). As peaceable as we try to be, fidelity to Christ will eventually cause the world to hate us (John 15:18-20). Jesus Himself told us that, if all men speak well of us, something isn’t right (Luke 6:26).
The world doesn’t understand why we don’t ordain women or why we reject Critical Race Theory. It doesn’t understand why we insist that sex be confined to marriage between one man and one woman, or why we call homosexuals to repent. It doesn’t understand that God calls His people to corporate worship, especially during a pandemic. And it doesn’t have to understand.
Precisely because the world is watching, we have the responsibility to live in obedience to the Lord. The world may be baffled by our obedience, and it most assuredly won’t like it. But it will see that we take the Lord seriously.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. ~~1 Peter 4:1-6 (NASB95)
We know that the world watches us. Therefore we must demonstrate an unwavering obedience to His Word, even when that obedience goes against popular values. When the world watches our social media feeds, it needs to see us standing on Scripture, firm in its authority. Yes, our stands must be loving, gentle and gracious, always respectful of those who disagree with us. But true love absolutely cannot excuse compromise with worldly ideas. Since the world is watching, let’s show it that we will be faithful to the Lord at all costs.Follow my blog with Bloglovin