Two key North Carolina leaders challenged messengers to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 6 to confront discrimination and pursue holiness.
BR photo by Steve Cooke
Lee Pigg shares with messengers during his presidential address.
“Discrimination was a problem in James’ day,” said Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe and president of the BSC, who led messengers through James 2:1-13 on the importance of loving our neighbors. “We must face this fact: discrimination gets in the way of the gospel.
“It hurts people. It separates people. It must be viewed as sinful behavior. It leads to war. It leads to political turmoil. It leads to family disputes.”
During his presidential address Pigg encouraged leaders to address the issue from churches rather than letting Washington, D.C., weigh in on the issue.
“We discriminate based on height, weight, appearance, disability, social status, economic status … yes, even religion,” he said. “The Bible says we are to never show partiality.”
Instead, Pigg urged messengers to view people the way God does.
“We are all created in the image of almighty God,” he said. “That’s the fact.”
Pigg said people make three presumptions. “We presume … that discrimination is not a sin, but it is,” he said. “Sometimes we blame it on where we grew up.”
People “presume that discrimination is not significant,” he said, and they justify their thoughts and actions by saying, “It’s not like we committed murder or adultery. It’s still breaking God’s law.”
The third presumption is that discrimination is not serious, but Pigg drew attention to James 2:13 where it says “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.”
John Mark Harrison, former pastor of Apex Baptist Church, homed in on two verses – Hebrews 12:1-2 –during his convention sermon.
Harrison, who has led Apex Baptist for six years, recently announced he and his family will be moving to First Baptist Church Concord in Knoxville, Tenn. He questioned messengers, “What does my neighbor need from me?”
Christ followers need to engage, encourage and strengthen their neighbors. “Let’s decide today to be faithful to King Jesus, to be faithful with everything that we have, with every day that we have,” he said.
Harrison urged a Kingdom-first mentality.
“He’s encouraging us to run the race to which God has called us,” he said. “We are a part of a mighty movement.”
In today’s culture there is a temptation for self-focused religious experience, but Harrison said “a Kingdom-first mentality, it really says that I will not chase my desires for my life, that I’ll surrender my life to Christ … because His life in and through me is what my soul is longing for.”
“Everything in our culture and society says build your kingdom here, build your kingdom now.”
Harrison urged messengers to “get to the end of ourselves and be completely dependent on God. It’s going to cost everything.”
Second, believers should pursue holiness. “We don’t talk a lot about living holy lives anymore. Our sin is crushing us. We’re running and running and running … He has paid the price for you, and He will set you free. His sacrifice was sufficient.”
Third, believers need to run the race with endurance.
“Be a doctor that glorifies God,” Harrison said. “Be a homemaker that glorifies God. Be an auto mechanic that glorifies God. Run your race. Stop looking … beside you.
“You should be who God has wired and made you to be. This is how we are faithful. Do what you’ve been created to do; do what you’re wired to do. Don’t twist yourself up in knots trying to be someone else.”
Harrison offered a perfect example of faithfulness: Jesus.
“He’s the example of a Kingdom-first mentality,” he said. “In His enduring the cross, Jesus Christ was an example of faithfulness to every single one of us.
“Let’s focus on Jesus, North Carolina Baptists. We live in a world where so many things divide us, but what if we resolved in our hearts and our lives to be Jesus people above everything else. He is simply enough.”