Who Cares?

America, if no longer glorious, is certainly passionate.  We care.  We are flag-waivers and cause-fighters, always beating the drum for some issue that is important to us.  We refer to ourselves as “red-blooded,” a signification of our hot passions in areas of important, if not aggrandized concernment.

Because we care, we are taking our stands these days in “all the old familiar places,” and some new.  We are ranting from pulpits, classrooms, dinner tables, conference lecterns, board meetings, town halls, locker rooms, neighborhood bars and theaters.  We sound off on billboards, newspaper adds, articles, bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, hats, banners, posters, signs, marquees and a near innumerable assortment of marketing applications.  We use internet forums, Facebook posts, Tweets, texts and blogs to get our point across.  It seems that everyone is clamoring to make their voices heard.

Lost in this frothy current of expression are the sensible outcries of meaningful, prophetic voices.  I am not saying that these voices do not exist, I am saying they are often hard to hear over the din of madness that prevails.  Nothing is needed more than the voices of genuine prophets, visionaries and thinkers; people who care and care about the right things.

I am talking about men like, John Milton, who said, “Give me liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all other liberties.”

Or, men like John Leland, who said, “...it is not possible, in the nature of things, to establish religion by human laws, without perverting the design of civil law and oppressing the people.”

Or, men like Francis Wayland, who said, “We...have ever believed that the state has no authority to legislate in matters pertaining to the conscience.  When man violates the rights of man, the state may interfere, and prevent or punish the wrong.  But, in matters which concern our relations to God, the state has no jurisdiction.”

Or, men like Leonard Busher, who said in 1614, “It is not only unmerciful, but unnatural and abominable - yea, monstrous - for one Christian to vex and destroy another for difference and questions of religion.”

These men cared, and they cared about right things.  They were champions of freedom because tyranny precludes authentic expressions of faith.  Liberty allows for persuasion to do its work.  These kinds of men of which we speak, hazarded their lives for the sake of the gospel.  They crusaded and argued for truth, not fashion, football, politics and pride.  

You can tell what people care about by what they say, yes, but more so by what they do.  John Clark, Missouri, pioneer preacher, was one such man.  Clark was saved and united with the Methodists at a young age.  He was  commissioned to ride and preach on the Richmond circuit in 1791, placed on trial as a preacher and ordained by Asbury himself in 1795.  Shortly after, in disagreement with the Methodist episcopacy, he became a Baptist.

According to Duncan, “His mode of traveling was on foot.  There were no railroads and steamboats in those days.  In fact, horses were a scarce article.”
 Cathcart tells us that he walked to Kentucky from Georgia, then he went on to St. Louis.
  He was once given a horse by concerned believers but found the care of the horse to be more of a burden than walking and gave the horse back.  Duncan said, “He traveled thus as far west as Bluffton, which was then the extreme frontier; south to St. Clair County, and north as far as Monroe County.”

At the age of seventy, still traveling extensively and preaching, Clarke had an appointment on the other side of the Missouri River.  A flood had destroyed the ferry so he travelled well out of the way, south to St. Louis, where he could cross safely.  After crossing, he continued on, down muddy paths in the thick darkness, stopping to rest as needed.  He reached the home of a Presbyterian family at breakfast time and was admonished to rest to no avail. He reached his appointment and preached the gospel after walking sixty-six miles!

Why would an old preacher demand so much of his feeble body?  He cared.  Clark answered the question this way, “...souls are precious, and God sometimes uses very feeble and insignificant means for their salvation.”
  Yes, he cared, and he cared about right things.

While believers have every right to express themselves in the public forums and even the responsibility to do so, let us take care, to care, about the right things!  When conveying our doctrinal position, let us be clear, but kind.  When discussing politics, may we ever be reminded that this world is no friend of grace and any out-right endorsement or alliance is potential for embarrassment.  As we analyze men, ministries, movements and their monuments, may we “in the spirit of meekness” consider ourselves lest we also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).

Find a gospel cause through your local, Bible-believing, Baptist church.  Volunteer.  Commit to it and see what God teaches you and uses you to do.  This is how you care.
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