Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, urged Christians to "not be part-time saints, but full-time Christians" and to unite for the advancement of the Gospel in an impassioned sermon on Sunday addressing persisting racial tensions in the church.
"Our true calling is not to be part-time saints but full-time Christians pulling Heaven down to earth as true reflections of the imago Dei," Evans said to those in attendance of the Send Conference. He was tasked to preach in the opening session.
The Christian Post reported that approximately 10,000 people attended the Send Conference, which was co-hosted by SBC missions agencies International Mission Board and North American Mission Board. Pastors, families, and churches from throughout North America convene to learn and celebrate synergistic missional efforts for the sake of the Gospel over the course of two days.
"We have watched our nation decline because there aren't enough accurate reflections of Christ invading the culture," he pointed out.
Evans emphasized to pastors that the invitation to be crucified with Christ does not discriminate on the basis of race or gender.
"God is not colorblind, but neither is He blinded by color," he was quoted as saying by the Baptist Press. "We are of every tribe and nation, and God sees us. But the only subject of the Bible is the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom. We are never to allow the politics of men to break up our togetherness, so stand together as the Lord sends you."
A number of significant problems presently confronting Baptists were addressed in his sermon, including racial tensions and political divergences between the parties.
By way of analogy, he noted that, during a football game, there are three teams on the field: the two teams playing against each other, and the team of officials responsible for managing the game.
Evans asked Christians to serve as the third team: officials who are on the field, rather than officials who are of the field.
He added that referees know they may be booted by furious people on both sides, but they realize that they are not there to be liked, so they just comply with the rules of the game.
"The problem is when the officials don the uniforms of the competing teams," Evans said, drawing parallels between them and Christians. "Because the moment that the officiating crew dons the uniforms of the competing teams, they have lost their kingdom authority. They have lost their uniqueness."
Christians, he advised them, should be "kingdom independents" in matters of politics.
"He never wants your humanity to trump your Christian commitment," he said as quoted by the Illinois Baptist.
"Because you represent another King and another kingdom," he stressed, "and you and I are never to allow the politics of men to break up our 'together,' to divide the church of Jesus Christ."
North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Kevin Ezell and International Mission Board (IMB) President Paul Chitwood spoke shortly after Evans finished delivering his message, emphasizing the significance of the conference theme, "Together."