The outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Pastor Ed Litton, left a challenge to the members of the nation's largest Protestant denomination, saying that there is a need to show Christ's compassion and vision to be able to reach the billions of lost people in the world.
"Unfortunately, we're making headlines in the Southern Baptist Convention, not because we are considered compassionate," the pastor said in his sermon, Tuesday, during the start of the Annual Meeting of SBC in Anaheim, California, calling out the congregation to a lack of true compassion for others, which can result in indifference to the people who are suffering and in need of them the most, Christian Post reported.
The pastor threw a question to the crowd, "When you see suffering, what does it do to you?" Then, he gave out a warning, "If we are not moved to action, we will become indifferent."
Litton insinuated that the reason behind the declining baptisms and the loss of members could very well be because they have already forgotten to be Christ's representation of compassion in their communities and place of assignments.
"We may yet discover as Southern Baptists that our declining baptisms is really due to the fact that our churches and our people have become separated from the heart of their communities," he directly stated.
He continued saying that people have chosen to be isolated from the pain and suffering around them, turning a blind eye and thinking it is somebody else's issue.
"We can't say we're the greatest mission-sending body in the world and have a heart that lacks Jesus' compassion," Litton emphasized, as quoted by Illinois Baptist.
'Gut Punch' To Move People To Action
Preaching from Matthew 9:35-38, he intensely shared that Jesus had a 'gut punch' in Scripture multiple times, which prompted Him to weep for His people, heal the sick, and free the demon-possessed, and that SBC should have this gut-level compassion too.
According to Baptist Paper, Litton urged the congregation to respond with compassion to the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and allow the gut punch to make them feel the suffering and trauma the victims have encountered and act on it, like how Jesus' gut punch moved Him to action, running towards all the hurting.
"When you see something do not look away," the pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama challenged.
Show Compassion For People Affected By Eventual Ruling On Abortion
Litton further challenged the members of SBC to eventually show compassion for people who will be affected once the Supreme Court rules against abortion, reminding the congregation that girls will still get pregnant and guys will still be irresponsible but the work of the church is still to help, strengthen and lead them to the truth and to Christ, and stressing that when Roe ends, their work as Southern Baptists begins.
In his last sermon as President of SBC, he gave the powerful reminder, "The work of loving people... is to love in the name of Jesus."