Rev. Lee Butler, Crescent Hill Baptist Church
For many people what I am about to share is not an earth-shattering new truth or a grand revelation, but I do believe it is an important reminder for the Christian community.
A few nights ago I listened to an interview with the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Regardless of the various personal opinions of the man or his job approval rating when he left his position several years ago, he still speaks from a position of experience and with a certain degree of influence. Having said that, let me assure you that I am not about to rattle off some politically-laced opinion about the current presidential administration or any other public office for that matter. What I want to talk about is a statement that Rumsfeld made repeatedly during his interview that seemed to be important to his stance on the current issue with Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world. Rumsfeld’s opinion was that the United States had willfully stepped down from a position of leadership on the international stage. Though we still hold all the same positions with NATO and the United Nations, Rumsfeld explained that he believed our voice as a nation in the international community had become silent and thus without influence leaving a leadership vacuum. I don’t know much about how vacuums work but I know enough to know that once suction is created by the vacuum it doesn’t take long for the dirt to get sucked up. Like-wise, when a leadership vacuum is created on the international stage, it doesn’t take long for another national leader to step up. Everyone has something to say and an agenda to push forward. I believe that it is fair to say that as of late other international voices have definitely stepped up to the stage to present their own positions and aspirations.
So what does all this have to do with Christian leadership? I believe that beginning at the very groundswell of our Christian churches and upward through the ranks of the most influential churches of the world there is a trending leadership vacuum of followers of Christ who are choosing to remove themselves from the public platform and withdraw into the quiet complacency of normative Christian living. That is, to remain secretly devoted but suffer evangelical apathy thereby relinquishing the opportunity to speak words of truth and hope to a world desperately searching for truth and hope. Whereas Rumsfeld’s statement about international influence certainly has political implications, so do our actions as Christian leaders have implications of our faith before a watching world. If we shy aware from the opportunity to take the platform and lead for the glory of God, we create a Christian leadership vacuum that is too eagerly filled by followers of darkness! Our adversary Satan would have us to believe to speak out is too political and controversial. He works hard making sure that we believe that our efforts will not produce a result that would make the cost of trying worthwhile. He does this because he wants to fill the leadership vacuum that is created when God’s people are silenced. He wants to convince the world that truth is relative and the only hope you have is found in your own ability. Standing in stark contrast to this are the words of our Savior Jesus Christ Who says, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”! Peter frames a godly response followers of Jesus should have for the world in 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”(ESV). Our international community is looking for answers and for people of integrity who will lead them to discover those answers. The truth of eternity is too great for followers of Christ to step away from the stage for the sake of self-preservation. There is much work to do and it is time for the church to organize for the work of the Gospel and take back lost ground in Jesus’ name!