It’s time for Baptists to awaken and take a stand, said Mark Harris, during his presidential address at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 13 in Greensboro.
Speaking on this year’s annual meeting theme, “Awaken,” Harris shared how N.C. Baptists must continue to fight off apathy and being overrun with “theological junk food” that keeps many from a true spiritual awakening.
Southern Baptists have to focus more on becoming servants, and understand that one of the signs of spiritual awakening is service.
“[Service is] a fundamental principle that the Word of God teaches,” Harris said. “What’s amazing is the humanists out there understand that all too well as they’re running the modern welfare system. They figured out that whatever agency serves the needs of people will ultimately gain the allegiance of those people. So they’re serving and our church is missing it.”
Mark Harris addresses N.C. Baptists during the annual meeting, Nov. 13.
Far too many Christians do not realize that there is a direct link between serving others and authority, Harris said.
“Authority is earned through service, and early in American history, it was the church that understood this,” he said. “The church was awake.”
Harris added, “It was the church that operated hospitals in this country. It was the church that operated orphanages in this country. It was the church that operated the rescue mission. It was the church that operated the soup kitchens. It was the church that operated the welfare agencies. It was the church that operated the schools. It was the church that operated the universities. … The church was a home to the homeless and a refuge to the rejected.”
“And as a result, the church had authority in this nation.”
Today Christians are facing increasingly difficult times, but they “have to keep fighting for what is right,” he said.
Harris said many have approached him recently and said Christians need to let go of pro-life issues or traditional marriage.
“I’ve heard people saying … ‘Listen, we have to accept that day is gone. Let it go,’” he said. “I share with you all the fervency in my being ‘We will not let that go.’”
There are issues that Christians must continue to fight for, Harris said.
“We’ve got to be willing to stand on these issues in our day and refuse to back up.”
Harris shared how churches used to take a stand on political issues and candidates running for public office. He said that changed in 1954, when an amendment to a tax code bill passed in the United States Senate. The amendment prohibits non-profit entities from making public statements in support of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.
Harris said a day is coming in this country when many believers will have to pay a heavy cost for standing up for their faith.
What will taking that stand cost?
Harris said, “Earlier this year, a Catholic Bishop in New York, who is now a Cardinal made this statement recently … ‘I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to die a martyr’s death in this country.’”
“I know there’s a cost,” Harris continued. “And we have no choice but to pay it. We desperately need a church. We desperately need people in those churches that are willing to risk their own reputation in order to be counted among people like Noah, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Amos, Ezekiel and John the Baptist.
Harris said he prays God will help N.C. Baptists to be a convention of churches that are awake.
“When we awaken, the world will know it,” he said.
“When 61 percent of North Carolinians went to the polls in May and said marriage is between one man and one woman, I’ve got news for you … they knew we were awake. When you and I begin to engage … it will make all the difference.”